In 2033, the number of middle-income seniors will nearly double to 16 million adults age 75 and older. However, more than 11 million of these adults may not be able to afford assisted living by this time, recently study found.
The analysis was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and was funded by SCAN Health Plan. He used the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Research with 2018 as the base year and examines individuals who were 60 years of age or older at that time, as they will be 75 years of age or older in 2033.
Middle-income seniors are those who are unlikely to qualify for Medicaid but do not have adequate resources to pay for the housing and care options they need. In 2018, the number of middle-income seniors was 8.4 million and will increase by 89% by 2033, the NORC report found. This population is also becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, with people of color expected to represent up to 22% in 2033.
“We need a long-term care system that meets the cultural needs and preferences of a more diverse set of seniors and families,” said Dr. Sarita Mohanty, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, in news release.
By 2033, 72% of middle-income seniors, or 11.5 million people, will have less than $65,000 in income and annuitized assets. That’s the average amount needed to pay for private assisted living and medical care, the study said. Even if they sold their homes, 39%, or 6.1 million, would still not be able to pay these costs.
But the elderly need long-term care, the researchers say. By 2033, 9.5 million middle-income seniors will be single, widowed or divorced, up from 3.7 million in 2018. Also, four in 10 middle-income seniors do not have children living nearby. Spouses and children are often the most common caregivers.
By age 75, many older adults experience health problems, the report said. For middle-income earners, 54% will have three or more chronic conditions and 56% will have mobility limitations in 2033. This number will increase by age 85, with 55% having three or more chronic conditions and 68%, who will have mobility limitations.
The researchers called for efforts to improve the affordability of long-term care for older adults, especially for those with lower incomes.
“Without a comprehensive long-term care system in this country, for all but the lowest-income people, the costs of senior housing and care support fall on seniors and their families,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president of NORC and lead author. “Unfortunately, most middle-income seniors may not have the financial resources to pay for the care they want and need.”
As for how to create long-term care affordability solutions, Pearson said it needs to be a collaborative effort.
“We need a combined public and private response to meet the long-term care needs of the Forgotten Environment,” she said in an email. “Policymakers should explore health and housing policies that can expand funding for personal care and care support to avoid middle-income seniors spending on nursing homes.” The long-term care industry must also work to market more affordable senior housing and home care options.”
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