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Crisis in Aging: Disability and Alzheimer's: Lack of Caregivers Threatens South Florida Seniors' Ability to Stay Home

A crisis in aging, fueled by increasing numbers of South Florida seniors with Alzheimer's disease and disabilities, and a decreasing work force to care for them, threatens the ability of those older adults to remain at home, according to a Florida-based senior care business owner.

Omaha, NE (PRWEB) September 29, 2009 -- A crisis in aging, fueled by increasing numbers of South Florida seniors with Alzheimer's disease and disabilities, and a decreasing work force to care for them, threatens the ability of those older adults to remain at home, according to a Florida-based senior care business owner.

"Seniors who are facing issues such as disability, dementia and Alzheimer's disease are vulnerable to a number of problems that can threaten their safety at home," said Bill Bidwell, a Florida senior care business owner. "Those issues, coupled with a shortage of caregivers, could put older adults in jeopardy of losing their homes not to foreclosure, but to their own inability to remain at home."

According to the third edition of Florida's Aging Population (2007) from Florida State University, the state's highest prevalence of Alzheimer's disease in Florida among those 65-plus is in the south and southeast Planning and Service Areas (PSAs) 9, 10, and 11 including Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Dade, and Monroe Counties. (The State of Florida coordinates planning for long-term care at the local level through 11 PSAs located throughout the state.)

Between 14 and 15 percent of seniors over age 65 in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Dade, and Monroe Counties are believed to have Alzheimer's disease. In addition, the PSA 11 counties of Monroe and Dade report more than 9 percent of the elderly population with two or more disabilities such as limited mobility and ability to provide self-care. Meanwhile, Broward County reported between 8 and 9 percent of seniors with two or more disabilities.

Bidwell, owner of Home Instead Senior Care a senior care franchise in Florida, said he sees the faces behind the statistics, and more of them each day in his own service areas of Naples and Fort Myers. "Industry numbers consistently indicate that the majority of seniors want to remain in their homes, but the crisis occurs when they no longer can," he said. "These seniors often need help with the activities of daily living such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders just to survive."

The state could soon be overwhelmed by these needs and an exploding demographic. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts the number of seniors over the age of 65 in Florida to grow by 37 percent between 2005 and 2015, or roughly one million seniors.1 With more of those seniors expected to remain at home, the projected growth in the occupation of personal and home care aides also is on the upswing.

The personal and home care aides job category includes professionals helping the elderly with physical, mental health, or cognitive disabilities who live in their own homes or in residential care facilities instead of in health facilities. In Florida, this category is expected to increase 43 percent between 2006 and 2016; from 10,640 to 15,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2 That job category is forecast to be the second fastest growing in the nation.

But with workforce shortages also projected, who will fill these jobs to provide care for seniors who want to stay at home? "A shortage of caregivers could exacerbate the crisis," Bidwell said. A January 2009 Annual Report released by Home Instead Senior Care entitled "When the Age Wave Hits: The State of Senior Caregiving in America," estimated that more than two million caregivers nationwide will be needed to keep pace with the demand in the decade ahead.

"At our company alone - the largest of its kind, but one of many throughout our country - the number of CAREGivers nationally is about 60,000," Bidwell said. His Home Instead Senior Care office is part of an international franchise company whose professional CAREGivers go into the homes of seniors to help them with their non-medical needs such as companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping.

"To keep pace with this projected demand for caregivers, our company would need to double its care force in just three years, according to our research," Bidwell explained. "On a positive note, these projections will mean job opportunities for Florida workers hit hard by the economy, providing a flexible part-time option for additional income or a new career in a fulfilling job field - caring for older adults. We've certainly seen the needs of seniors in our area drive the demand for our services, which in turn creates more caregiving jobs," Bidwell said.

The impending crisis is not only providing jobs, but business opportunities in Florida. "We're hoping to expand to meet the growing needs of seniors in Florida," said Tim Connelly, Home Instead Senior Care Director of Franchise Development. "With demographics like this, Home Instead Senior Care provides a solid model for a successful business in Florida, even in these unsure economic times."

"Business professionals who are seeking opportunities in a field with unlimited growth potential should consider senior care," he noted. "We look for professionals with a love of seniors and a solid track record of business success."

1.   U.S. Census Bureau
2.   U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

For more information, contact Dan Wieberg, public relations manager by phone at 888-484-5759 or by email at dwieberg(at)homeinsteadinc(dot)com.

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