Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Oldest old support ratio"

It may take a village to raise a child, but don't forget that part of the village needed to care for the frail elderly.

Swiss investigators, noting that resources to care for the oldest old are increasingly scarce, set out to quantify the problem. They developed a parameter called the oldest old support ratio, defined as the ratio of people aged 50-75 to those aged 85 years and older. This number not only reflects the demographic shift of populations to the older range, but also--as I can personally attest to--the number of aging children in charge of their frail parents.

So what's the scoop on the oldest old support ration in Switzerland? While it stood at 139.7 in 1890 (scads of middle-aged helpers to a smattering of little old people), it had fallen to 13.4 by 2003. Dr. Francis Herrmann and company predict that this ration will fall to around 4 in both Switzerland and the US by 2050.

By my calculations, that won't be near enough helpers and resources to care for 99 year old me.

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