More elders with smaller families will drive demand for caregivers

CORVALLIS, Ore. - By the year 2050, one in four Oregonians will be over age 65 - about double today's elder population, according to Oregon State University researchers.

Professor Karen Hooker and Assistant Professor Carolyn Mendez-Luck with the college of Public Health and Human Sciences said the demand for caregivers will continue to rise due to several factors.

The researchers said the baby boomer generation is not only caring for their parents but children as well.

By the time they're ready to retire, they may have substantial health problems related to stress and poor health.

"Think about the available caregivers and also think about many women today are in the workforce, so it just puts pressure on families because there's not a lot of people to share caregiving in families," Hooker said.

Mendez-Luck said families are having an average of two children as opposed to the 5 to 10 children a century ago.

Smaller family size and divorces will make it difficult for the baby boomer generation to have family caregiving. Hooker said 70-80 percent of caregiving today is done by family.

"I would say it's a growth area for the future, but caregiving may change in the future. I think we'll be depending more on technology," said Hooker.