August 26, 2013
Too Few Caregivers For Aging Baby Boomers?

The AARP Policy Institute sees a big shortage of caregivers for aging folks. How to deal with this problem?

Consider these findings: In 2010, there were 7.2 potential caregivers (ages 45-64 or the average age of caregivers) for every person age 80-plus. In 2030, that caregiver ratio will drop to 4 to 1 and by 2050, when all boomers will be in late life, the ratio becomes less than 3 to 1. In 2050, there will be three times as many people age 80-plus as there are today.

The sub-optimal solution: automated care. Robots, monitoring cameras, automated kitchens, autonomous cars, smart beds, smart sinks, and other elements of highly automated assisted living can cut the burden on family members, neighbors, community services organizations, and hospitals.

The optimal solution: rejuvenation therapies to reverse aging.

I am all for the automation. But when rejuvenation therapies come they will eliminate the need for almost all caregivers, except perhaps in recuperation phases after replacement organ transplants.

While we wait for rejuvenation therapies I expect we will see the following technologies to take care of old people:

  • Cars will drive people who can't drive themselves.
  • Delivery trucks will drive themselves. Maybe still human unloaders. Though I bet in some conditions the unloading will be automated (e.g. into specially designed roadside receptacles).
  • A house robot will clear dishes from a table, put them into a dish washer, and later put them in shelves.
  • A house robot will also pick up clothes, put them in washer, move them to dryer.
  • Remote video control systems will allow humans to watch and guide robots in homes of old folks.
  • Friends and family will get automated notification if mom isn't getting out of bed or has been too long in the bathroom. Basically the house will send notifications when it looks like a crisis or chronic problem has developed.
  • Automated pill dispenser will make it easier for old folks to get their meds right.
  • Appliances will report when they malfunction so that repair people will be dispatched. I expect appliance makers to include optional automated repair dispatch for a higher purchase price.
  • Voice-to-text systems in the house will be able to take complaints of old people and turn them into service requests that humans will review and handle at central locations.
  • How about robotic meal delivery?

What am I missing?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 August 26 11:35 PM 

Hard Times Hard Times said at August 27, 2013 9:32 AM:

The problem is real and getting worse. Even more, European populations are shrinking and being replaced by populations of people who often have a grudge against persons of a different complexion. The chances are that some of your loved ones in nursing homes will be taken care of by at least a few persons that may wish them harm.

Persons with lower intelligence and less education procreate more rapidly than educated and intelligent people, on average. When considering retirement, you may want to think about the ocean of less fortunate people who surround your little island of prosperity, and how they may feel about people of your kind who fall under their care.

mapman said at August 27, 2013 7:00 PM:

The actual solution that will be used: more immigration to allow for more Filipino and Mexican nurses.

James Bowery said at August 27, 2013 10:16 PM:

What are you missing?

Suicide bombers.

Bruce Dunn said at August 28, 2013 1:58 PM:

The AARP report for some reasons assumes that adults under the age of 45 are not available for support of seniors, and generates its alarming report on this basis. An alternate measure of what is happening to society is to look at the fraction of the population that is children and teens, the fraction that is more or less of working age (say 18 to 65) and the fraction that is aging. The working age population is totally supporting the youth population. It is also partly supporting the aging population (some of whom continue to work, and many of whom have savings from their productive years). Graphs that project these populations over time show that while the percentage of the population which is elderly rises, the percentage of the population which is children and youth drops. The fraction of the population of working age remains about constant. Essentially, with time the ratio of productive to non-productive individuals remains about the same. We will have more people taking care of the elderly, but fewer people taking care of and educating children.

Toby Jugg said at August 29, 2013 4:36 PM:

I would like to see legalized suicide pills available for retired and unemployed people, so that if a person isn't enjoying those final lonely decades whilst body, mind and relationships decay, they can take a few pills and never wake up.

Possibly some Soylent Green style peaceful death centers could be opened up. It would save their family money, save the country money, and be a way for a person to better control the course of their life.

Nuke'Em said at September 9, 2013 8:08 AM:

Don't forget telepresence medical treatment, an assortment of medical testing tools that are built into appliances or phones maybe even disposable.

But to live well I'll definitely want more than a self driving car. I'll need some way to get out of the house and have experiences. Like robotic valet or maybe an exoskeleton that will help me walk or work out.

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