America thinks little about helping its growing elderly population….
A recent analysis in Health Affairs, pointedly titled “The Forgotten Middle,” investigated how many middle-income seniors will be caught in that bind. The numbers were grim.
Using data from the national Health and Retirement Study, including personal income and assets and health status, the researchers defined the middle-income cohort as Americans from the 41st to the 80th percentile in terms of financial resources.
In 2029, for people 75 to 84 (ages when they’re likely to need long-term care), that would mean access to about $25,000 to $74,000 a year in current dollars. Over age 85, the middle-income category extends to $95,000.
About 14.4 million people will fall into the middle-income category, almost double the current number. Sixty percent will need canes, walkers or wheelchairs to remain mobile, the analysis estimated, and 20 percent will need extensive help with the so-called activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.
They’re a better educated and more diverse group of older adults than in the past, less likely to experience poverty. Still, most will be unable to afford assisted living, the authors found.
A decade hence, 80 percent of middle-income seniors will have less than $60,000 a year in income and assets, not including equity in their homes. Yet the estimated cost of assisted living plus out-of-pocket medical expenses will hit $62,000, by the team’s conservative estimate.
“This group gets ignored and underserved in today’s long-term care market, and it’s a problem that’s going to explode over the next 20 years,”….