Study: Worker shortage may put elderly at risk

Share this content:

There may not be enough personal assistance workers in the future to meet the needs of the elderly, according to a new study.

Cuts in Medicaid spending, low wages, poor health benefits and high job turnover could contribute to a decline in the numbers of workers in skilled personal assistance and care positions. Such workers assist older adults in their homes and help to keep them out of institutions. The study appears in the July/August issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Although the number of personal assistance workers has steadily increased, from 264,000 in 1989 to 894,000 in 2004, the aging population will continue to drive greater demand for such services, said lead study author H. Stephen Kaye, professor at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco.