The aging population will continue to demand more long-term care services, but the number of caregivers is not growing at the same rate. and it is estimated that globally there is a shortage of more than 13 million of these workers and that the United States needs 3.5 million more.
The evaluation is part of the document “No One Left Behind in an Aging World: World Social Report 2013”recently published by United Nations (UN), which showed that Puerto Rico ranks seventh in the world with the highest percentage of people aged 65 or over (22.5% of the total population).
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The need for informal caregivers (those who work without pay and are usually relatives or acquaintances) and formal caregivers (healthcare administrators or long-term care institutions) to care for the elderly is one of the main outcomes of an aging population.
However, this generational transition also has an impact on the economic and social aspects of the world. In Puerto Rico, there is an accelerated aging population that urgently requires the consolidation and adoption of public policies in different areas in order to adjust to demographic change and their service needs.
The United Nations document uses the definition of long-term care World Health Organization (WHO), referring to a wide range of personal, social and medical services over a long period of time, which guarantee that people who have or are at risk of losing their physical and mental abilities, maintain a level of functioning consistent with their rights. fundamental freedoms and human dignity. This care is provided in the home, in the community, or in institutions.
In the United States, in 2014, there were unpaid caregivers (informal caregivers) for every 100 adults aged 65 and older, ranking second in a group of 22 countries in an analysis of long-term care (Xenia Scheil-Adlung). At that time, the lack of caregivers was already reflected in the informal situation.
Regarding formal employees or those who work on a salary basis in various institutions, the UN report indicates that in 2015 there were 11.9 million of these workers in the world. But 13.6 million more were missed. In the United States of Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular, at that time there were 3.4 million formal caregivers, but a deficit of 1.6 million, who were needed but were not.
A woman’s face
In addition to the number of failures, the issue of caregivers has other worrying aspects, such as the fact that the majority are women, often designated with discriminatory criteria; who receive compensation; that many times they are even older adults; and that cheap labor and inexperience affect, among other things, the health of body and mind.
According to the UN report, there are countries, such as Europe, where more than 80% of long-term care information falls.
In general, care for the elderly is both informal and formal, particularly in women, in all regions of the world and in all income levels. Globally, women spend 250 minutes or more than four hours a day on average caring for an older person without pay. That is three times more than a person, according to the UN report.
When assessing this fact, it is important to note that in general women live longer than men, there are more elderly people living alone (many of them widows) and these characteristics contribute to fewer economic resources.
“Among the unpaid carers aged 50 and over in the 37 regions of God” Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 62% are women. Globally, women contribute 71% of the estimated time in informal care for people with dementia, a proportion that rises to 80% in low-income countries.
When it comes to paying for caring for the elderly, women are also in the lead. Nine out of 10 formal caregivers in 37 OECD countries are women.
“Even in countries considered to have the most gender equality in the world, such as Denmark and Norway, women represent 95% and 92% of paid care workers, respectively,” says the UN analysis.
“This is intimately connected to the social condition of low and poor salaries, and to the cultural and social norms that indicate that women are responsible for caring for the elderly, free or paid,” he adds.
The document highlights that even paid staff often work under deplorable conditions, without benefits and without proper training.
“The small and unpleasant work caused various problems in the physical and mental health of the caregivers, which negatively impacted the quality of the service.” In particular, they may experience loneliness, harassment, and violence. All this contributes to the fact that long-term care work is unattractive and that there is a high rate of “tumor” (labor turnover) and low morale,” the UN concludes in its analysis.