Addressing Our Caregiver Shortage through Intergenerational Programs: Introducing our Youth to Seniors Living in Long-Term Care

interages_carousel

As our population continues to age and the demand to age in place continues to grow, family caregivers have assumed the responsibility of caring for our older population. In the post, Investing in the ‘New Normal’: Are Companies Afraid to Admit Caregiving is now a Business Problem? I discussed the need for companies to recognize this growing number of Caregivers since 61% also work a full-time job.

The increase in older adults in need of care also leaves us with another issue: As the amount of non-trained caregivers continues to rise with the increasing number of older adults, the number of professionally trained skilled nursing workers have not.

The sheer quantity of adults 65+ raises concerns since by 2050 the number of older adults is expected to jump to 88 million. At such large numbers, resources are essential to the ability to provide and care for our older populations.

So what happens when our loved ones require more care than we can provide? And a Skilled Nursing or Memory Care facility becomes the only option.  Who will care for our loved ones then?

The most common reason people choose to work in long-term care is that they had a good relationship with an older adult (commonly a grandparent) at some point in their lives.

If we want to successfully foster quality of life for both current and future residents of Long-Term care, we should provide incentives for Long-Term Care jobs through deliberate interventions to introduce younger generations to our aging populations.

Caregiver Shortage

Hebrew Home for the Aged

Reports of caregiver shortages in long-term care settings have increased. AARP estimates that the number of Americans requiring assistance is expected to grow to a whopping 117 Million by the year 2020, where the informal caregiver group will grow to 45 million.

The photo above is a perfect example of what happens when there are more residents than caregivers. Unfortunately, caregiver shortages in LTC have also created a barrier to the successful implementation of culture change. 

Taking care of another human being is not an easy task, and it becomes even more challenging when the person is unable to communicate with their caregiver effectively. Due to a low ratio of staff to the resident, staff is required to be task and time oriented as every resident comes with a checklist of obligations that must be addressed by the end of a shift.

These limitations allow little time for tasks outside of their checklist and discourage meaningful interactions with the residents in their care. It is under these conditions staff burnout is at its highest and staff satisfaction becomes minimized.

Investing in LTC Programs and Education

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Introducing our youth to this incredible generation not only brightens the lives of our elders and youth at the moment. It also plants a seed in our younger generations who will undoubtedly carry the memory of such meaningful interactions as they grow

I had just graduated high school when I was given the opportunity to work in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).  While there I formed bonds with residents that I still feel so strongly today. And although I was still just a baby to them, they always treated me with respect and provided me with the encouragement to continue my career in the aging services.

When young students are taught about the aging population, their perspective of age dramatically changes and allows them to develop a sensitivity and understanding of the aging process. We have an opportunity to address our professional caregiver shortage and to create purposeful interventions in the lives of our youth; in hopes one day they too choose a career that benefits our elders.

 

Image Sources
http://www.rosemounttownpages.com/life/4008778-bringing-together-young-and-old
http://www.osuokc.edu/cdls/intergenerational.aspx
https://www.accessjca.org/programs/interages/
https://aging.osu.edu/intergenerational_center
http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-learner-link
http://igesl.elevatedpulse.com/programs/intergenerational-service-learning-programs/
http://www.nationalgardenmonth.org/index.php?page=200903storyline
http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/new-census-data-aging-america/?_r=0

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