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Caring for an Aging Nation

Analysis  |  By Kaiser Health News  
   May 28, 2021

The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to nearly double in the next 40 years. Finding a way to provide and pay for the long-term health services they need won't be easy.

This article was published on Friday, May 28, 2021 in Kaiser Health News.

By Lydia Zuraw and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez  

Healthcare for the nation's seniors looms large as the baby-boom generation ages into retirement. President Joe Biden tacitly acknowledged those needs in March with his proposal to spend $400 billion over the next eight years to improve access to in-home and community-based care.

The swelling population of seniors will far outpace growth in other age groups. That acceleration — and the slower growth in other age groups — could leave many older Americans with less family to rely on for help in their later years. Meanwhile, federal officials estimate that more than half of people turning 65 will need long-term care services at some point. That care is expensive and can be hard to find.

Spending for paid long-term care already runs about $409 billion a year. Yet that staggering number doesn't begin to reflect the real cost. Experts estimate that 1 in 6 Americans provide billions of dollars' worth of unpaid care to a relative or friend age 50 or older in their home.

As the country weighs Biden's plan, here's a quick look at how long-term care works currently and what might lie ahead. Read the KHN coverage here.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The swelling population of seniors will far outpace growth in other age groups.

That acceleration — and the slower growth in other age groups — could leave many older Americans with less family to rely on for help in their later years.

Federal officials estimate that more than half of people turning 65 will need long-term care services at some point. That care is expensive and can be hard to find.

Spending for paid long-term care already runs about $409 billion a year. Yet that staggering number doesn't begin to reflect the real cost.

Experts estimate that 1 in 6 Americans provide billions of dollars' worth of unpaid care to a relative or friend age 50 or older in their home.


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