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GRAYING POPULATION PROMPTS DEBATE ON ADEQUACY OF NATION'S HEALTH CARE LABOR FORCE Note: Media must register to attend the Sept. 13 opening session (10 - 11 a.m.) People aged 85 and older make up the fastest-growing age group in the country. Today, there are 3 million men and women in this category; by 2030, there will be more than 8 million. These demographic changes warn of a coming crisis in the health care labor force: As the population ages, demand for health care services will rise dramatically, but there will be fewer workers aged 16 to 64 to meet that demand. "How can we meet the challenges of an aging society? How do we face an aging health care labor force? How can we increase a declining pool of potential health care workers? How will market forces affect the quality and size of the necessary labor pool?" asks Lynn Martin, former secretary of labor and chair of a panel of business executives, policymakers and academics convened by the College of Nursing Nursing Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The panel will meet three times between September and March to launch a national dialogue on the adequacy of the nation's health care labor force in light of the graying population. ...read more.


* Four percent of persons aged 65 and older live in nursing homes, and the majority of those residents are women. * While life expectancy at age 65 is higher for whites than for African-Americans, at age 85, it is slightly higher for African-Americans than for whites. * The number of white non-Hispanic workers, as a proportion of all workers, is expected to decline from 75 percent (in 1998) to 64 percent in 2025. * By 2025, Hispanics are projected to be 17 percent of the labor force, the second largest group. If there are not enough health care providers, then family members-historically, women-will fill the gaps. The increased responsibility may mean that these caregivers leave the work force, at a time when the nation will least be able to afford it, or that their productivity in the workplace decreases. * Population estimates suggest that even as the number of elderly is increasing, the nation will experience increased fertility rates, producing more children. Those caught in the middle will be squeezed in terms of finances and other resources while caring for dependents at both ends of the life spectrum. ...read more.


Better overall health and the availability of procedures such as simplified cataract surgery and hip replacement reduces disability and permits more people to remain at work, Suzman said. "We are seeing more and more ability to influence health." The health of boomers generally is better than that of their parents, most women have worked and generate their own Social Security and pension income, and education levels are higher, according to the Institute on Aging, which worked with the Census Bureau on the report. More older women Other findings of the report, "65+ in the United States," include: * The number of Americans age 100 and older has been climbing rapidly, reaching 49,894 by mid-1994. * The elderly are more often women than men. There are 65 men for every 100 women over age 65. The ratio falls to 50 men for 100 women over age 80 and just 27 men for 100 women over age 100. * The percentage of elderly living in poverty declined from 24.6 percent in 1970 to 12.9 percent in 1992. * Among the 80 million elderly projected for 2050, 8.4 million will be black, 6.7 million will be of races other than white or black and 12.5 million will be Hispanic of any race. ...read more.

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