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Diminishing pool of elderly carers

16th March 2007

Intergenerational changes in the population – there are now more older people and relatively fewer young people – is likely to result in a shortage of carers, a study has announced.

Researchers from the study have, however, come up with a way to manage the decline in carers for the elderly: a ratio which maps the number of people in each age group.

The ratio divides the population into four age groups – the young, those working age, younger retired people (aged 50-74)and the oldest people (aged 85 and over).

Through this ratio it is possible to determine how many people could potentially care for those aged over 85.

It is expected that carers will be drawn mainly from the younger retired category over the coming years.

The research also recognises the significance of informal care, generally provided by family members. In England, it is estimated that 8.5 million people provided informal care in 2000. This often goes unmeasured.

Informal care is becoming increasingly problematic, as the retirement age goes up and families become increasingly fragmented.

The pensions crisis also raises questions about where funding will come from to pay for additional care.

It is hoped the ratio will alert governments to the potential crisis and enable them to react accordingly and boost recruitment into the sector.