White House panel: Aging baby boomers to cause long-term care crisis

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A White House advisory panel warns that an explosion in population of elderly and frail citizens could lead to a crisis in long-term care in the United States.

Demand for healthcare and nursing home care will increase dramatically since the number of elderly Americans is expected to double by 2050, according to a report issued late last week by the President's Council on Bioethics.

The panel's report, "Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in Our Aging Society," also noted that the number of people in the United States with dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease is expected to triple to 12 million by 2050. The report suggested that the leaders have barely begun to consider the far-reaching implications of the swelling elderly numbers.

Among the factors contributing to an impending crisis are a shortage of healthcare professionals qualified to work in long-term care, the use of medical technology to prolong life at all costs and the lack of federal programs to assist family caregivers.

The council has recommended the formation of a new national commission to explore the economic implications of aging and dementia on long-term care.

A copy of "Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in Our Aging Society," can be ordered at http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/.