Silver Tsunami Set to Hit Texas

As Baby Boomers reach retirement, a perfect storm is set to hit nursing homes as a surge in the number of aging Texans, known as the Silver Tsunami, is projected to affect long term care services across the state.

More than 12 percent of the Texas population is over 65, and that number is growing. According to the Texas Demographic Center, the over-65 population across the state is projected to increase by more than 262 percent by 2050.

The perfect storm is intensified by the increasingly complex medical conditions — such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s — of aging Texans needing nursing home care. According to data from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2018 Texas Facts and Figures, over 380,000 of the state’s residents have already developed Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. In Texas, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death, and its prevalence is expected to increase by almost 30 percent by 2025.

These factors will place an enormous strain on an industry that is already reeling from a workforce crisis, with more than 90 percent annual turnover for caregivers, including nurses.

“Texans respect and value seniors,” said Kevin Warren, president and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association. “But Texas’ history of chronically underfunding long term care is producing barriers to quality care and is setting up serious consequences as a Silver Tsunami of Baby Boomers looms on the horizon.”

According to the Texas Demographic Center, the number of Texans between 45 and 65 years old — the very people most likely to be called on to care for a loved one — is projected to grow at a slower rate than those over 65. This means the people who will be caring for senior Texans will increasingly be seniors themselves.

Texas nursing homes are challenged with one of the lowest nursing home Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation. In fact, the state’s Medicaid rate falls almost $10,000 short of the cost of care on an annual basis per Medicaid resident. More than two-thirds of all residents in Texas nursing homes rely on Medicaid to cover their costs after depleting their assets.