Experts in the field of unpaid and paid caregiving for chronically ill or disabled adults are warning of a looming caregiving crisis in the U.S., and say that innovation and entrepreneurship are desperately needed to avert that crisis.
“We are calling for federal and state legislation for greater innovation and technology to avert unnecessary hospital admissions and visits to the emergency room; payment for family care givers; education and training for family caregivers; and greater awareness and support among employers for workers who are also family caregivers -- estimated to be between 15 percent and 20 percent of any employee population,” says Melissa O’Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, Associate Professor at the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova. O’Connor specializes in geriatric nursing and home health care.
An American Association of Retired Persons study showed that, in 2010, the caregiver support ratio was seven potential family caregivers for every person in the high-risk 80+ cohort. In contrast, by 2030 the ratio is projected to be four to one. And by 2050, a sharp decline to fewer than three to one.
Based on her years of research, O’Connor says more reimbursement for telehealth and other technologies that are proving to be very effective are needed. As a nurse educator, she also called for more training of clinical staff in caring for older adults.
At a recent meeting of the Philadelphia Chapter of Aging 2.0, O’Connor and fellow panelists shared key points: Men and millennials are overtaking women as family caregivers; employers are often unaware of the economic consequences employee caregivers face and usually underestimate the percentage of employees with caregiving responsibilities; nearly 35 percent of employee caregivers have chosen or been forced by circumstances to leave the workforce because of caregiving responsibilities; and healthcare benefit costs for employees with caregiving responsibilities are eight percent higher than the rest of the employee population.
To speak with O'Connor, click on her headshot above, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-519-5152.
Melissa O'Connor, PhD Associate Professor | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing
Melissa O'Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, is an expert in home health care, geriatric nursing and transitions in care.