Baby Boomers’ Eldercare Wake-up Call
There are approximately 78 million reasons for boomers to jump on the long-term care strategic thinking, planning and executing bandwagon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau report in 2009, boomers were 78 million strong based on the 2006 census.
The staggering number of aging boomers in America serves as a wake-up call to boomers to start planning for our elder care needs. We’re only more than a decade late. How’s that timeline for urgency, my fellow boomers? Our millennial wake-up call is more urgent if any of the following scenarios are sound bytes from your life.
- Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance: If you are familiar with LTC insurance, you get an “E,” for effort, as my octogenarian mother occasionally said about a few of her former elementary school students who didn’t quite make the grade in reading, writing, or arithmetic. If you have LTC insurance, you’re barely passing with a C-. LTC coverage is a sound baby step, though maybe not for everyone.
- Childbearing Profile: You are single and childless. While having grown children is no guarantee of having at least 1 trustworthy LTC gatekeeper in your golden years, being a parent of an adult child may yield elder care dividends down the road.
- Health: You have been medically diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition.
- Family Medical History: You have a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer and/or diabetes. As is said in Spanish, “¡Ojo!” (Translation: Keep an eye on that!)
- Relationships in Your Family: Some families can’t wait to get as far away from each other as possible as members age. If your family’s relationships are strained, don’t count on family support in your golden years. Some caregivers could tell you stories about dysfunctional family relationships that erupt in nasty feuds when aging family members need long-term assistive care. Who are your family allies? Do you know? You should. One day in the not too distant future, your daily eldercare may depend on a family member. If that day comes, your primary (family) caregiver should be your elder care advocate.
- Home Upkeep: If you are a homeowner, you know that appliances and various parts of your home eventually will need repairs. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially, will you be prepared, and able, to keep up with increasing demands of homeownership as you advance in years?
- Family’s Go-To Contact? Your parents are older and/or starting to show signs of age-related or chronic disease health decline. You volunteered, or, Dad asked you for help with mowing the lawn after his heart attack scare. Your sibling who lives closer to your parents than you do has been calling you to vent about “little things” around your aging parents.
- Sibling(s) Lives Closer to Your Elderly Parents: You’ve long assumed that your sibling was merely venting with those telephone calls about your parents. You never gave the conversations a second thought. Your sibling takes care of helping your parents and lives within 15-minutes of your parents’ home.
- Financially Tangled Elder Web: You feel blindsided when you inadvertently discover that your parents have not paid their (property) taxes for more than a year now. Then, you discover unopened and unpaid bills in your parents’ home. How, and when, did your parents’ financial affairs get so out of hand?
- Your Emotional Roller Coaster: You wonder what you may have missed and decide that the whole mess is your sibling’s fault. You had nothing to do with this. You have no idea what to do, or, where to begin. You have your own life, marriage or divorce, relationship woes, job demands, financial challenges, adult child(ren) who just moved back into your home in a dismal economy, mounting debt, and more drama. You’ll help your parents because no one else in your family seems to care.
- Stress: Your anger mounts. You’re depressed. You stop talking to your sibling(s). You argue with your parents.
You feel so alone.
With 78 million aging boomer cohorts and 65 million caregivers in the U.S., you are part of a supportive community. Recognizing eldercare’s red flags is one way to achieve confidence that propels you to reach out to healthcare and eldercare professionals for help. Involve your parents and siblings in decisions.
You’re not alone. It’s a family affair.
Isabel Fawcett, SPHR
Isabel has been a full-time, stay-at-home caregiver to her 85 year old mother for 2 years, and counting. She is a regular Contributor at ElderCareLink, a blogger and Twitterer. Isabel is an independent human resources consultant and former HR management professional with 20+ years of HR experience, including FMLA, workers’ compensation and the Americans With Disabilities Act. She is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certified and last worked for the Office of the Governor in Texas before her most recent eldercare choice. Isabel also has worked in healthcare as Assistant Director of Volunteers at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York City, and Manager of Staffing and Recruitment, Norwalk Hospital, Connecticut. She has also worked at Marriott International Headquarters in HR. Isabel is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and has been a patient care volunteer for the American Red Cross overseas.
Home care counselors at Andelcare are available to talk with you and your family about care needs for your loved one, including, how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care. Andelcare is a home care agency providing In Home Care in Seattle and surrounding areas.