The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030, nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older — based on 10,000-plus baby boomers now turning 65 every day. The Institute of Medicine reports that more than three-quarters of adults over age 65 suffer from at least one chronic medical condition requiring ongoing care and management, and with the growing number of older Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expecting significant increases to our nation’s healthcare and long-term care costs. This includes greater demands on the public health system and government-sponsored health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As the nation adjusts to its population shift and prepares for a potential health system crisis, the results from a recent research effort reveal that boomer caregivers are crucial allies in managing senior health and controlling healthcare costs.

Specifically, the survey found that:
— 73% of boomer caregivers are attending all or nearly all of the doctor appointments for a senior loved one — with even higher rates of attendance among those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia (76%). (This is a very important role. Many seniors do not accurately report conversations with physicians.)

— 83% of potential caregivers are conducting online research about a loved one’s health condition and possible treatments before and/or after a medical appointment.

— For nearly two-thirds of boomer caregivers, a loved one needs a great deal of help managing medications and treatments, with an additional 28% reporting that their loved one needs some help with medication and treatment tasks.

In today’s world of health and medicine, there is an expectation that patients take more responsibility for themselves. Elders are expected to do more for themselves. But this can be extremely difficult for seniors with chronic care conditions, and equally hard as people get older and sicker. Having a trusted caregiver involved can be crucially important.