We worked hard. We raised families. We went to work thinking, “Someday, I’ll retire.” We saved and built a pension. You’re probably thinking we’re complaining about the economy. That’s not what frustrates us most.
We want to age at home. The fiasco at the care homes during covid didn’t create our desire. We’ve always wanted to stay home. We downsized into ranchers so we could stay home.
The Worst Part of Aging at Home
The yard doesn’t look as good. Spring cleaning is a few seasons behind. The car won’t fit into the garage. But we could live with that.
The worst part of aging at home is when the only option is to rely on family members for support.
We live in a community of friendly people but not many close friends, not monitoring our needs. Our family is not nearby. Our kids would probably offer before we asked, but inviting them into aging support needs feels uncomfortable – like begging. We know they have obligations and other priorities!
Mom was home when we were their age, and help our parents needed fit into her schedule.
What Makes Boomers Mad as They Age-At-Home
What makes us mad as hell is what our children and grandchildren cope with as we age at home.
In the beginning, we need a little help. A few hours a week. Pick up groceries or a prescription. Bring soup or casseroles, do some yard work, and maybe clean up a bit.
Soon, the time creeps up—a couple of hours a day. After a couple of years, it grows to 3, then secretly to 4, then 5 hours a day! There’s nothing we can do about it if we want to stay home. The financial burden is high if we consider continuous care communities!
Some of us are lucky enough to have insurance or cash to pay someone. Even with money, often $75/hr, we have difficulty finding anyone. Agencies can’t find employees. So, maybe we hire someone under the table which is in the country illegally. That is how the underground care economy grows. It undermines the ideals we worked for our whole lives.
Is Caregiving a Private Family Problem?
Our society says that this is a private problem. A combination of health and money issues are nobody’s business. So, each family must find unique solutions.
Our children and grandchildren are ruining their physical and mental health, families, and careers because of their responsibilities to us. They’re taking too much time off work and getting training in stress and anger management (they’re angry, too!) They’re not nurses, yet they perform medical tasks, so we rely on love instead of medical expertise to stay alive.
We’re aging at home but undermining our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.
Possible Solutions to the Caregiver Crisis
Bubble baths, relaxation techniques, and time off don’t get to the root of the crisis. Even government programs for leaves of absence won’t lift the burden on our families.
We want our family members to stay at work and live as we did. We’re willing to learn how to use new technology to keep in touch with family, doctors, etc. But we must set up tech services to support greater independence at home. We could be more independent.
Our family could save time off if they could scoot to a private space at work for a confidential conversation or virtual doctor’s visit and get back to work. Imagine interoperable operations without traditional barriers and layers of intermediaries; connected to our loving families anywhere, anytime. Our family members need education and more outcome-driven resources, simple as that.
Baby Boomers disrupted every aspect of society as we grew up. It’s no surprise that America needs new systems now that we’re retiring. We prefer to be happy now. Instead, we’re mad. It’s time for Baby Boomers to stand united for independence in the home without interfering with our children’s lives.
The care industry is not prepared. Family cannot do paid jobs and be a caregiver. It’s time to protect our families’ employment, income, and relationships and get the quality of life and care we deserve.
FREE eBook about the employment and healthcare crises colliding as Baby Boomers age. The American Caregiver Crisis – Two Crises Collide.
Jeannette Galvanek, Founder, CareWise Solutions – a non-profit educational organization, is activating a generational shift in line with Baby Boomer aging, life, and care expectations.