The Age of Self-Realization for Boomers – Part I
My parents grew up during time of economic profit and industrial boom. A time when it was expected for couples to marry young and begin a family early on. This was also when people were only living until their mid-60’s and the term ‘long-term care’ was associated with children and loved ones taking turns caring for their aging parents in their homes.
Just like many parents of people my age. Our parents were blessed with coming of age in a budding economic era where a person could, quite literally, fall out of bed and be placed at a tool and die machine. They were born into a booming economy full of endless possibilities.
According to recent research the population, over the age of 65, will grow to an impressive 1/5 of the total US population by 2030. You can find the data pretty much anywhere; AARP, National Public Radio, and or by a quick Google search. It’s all everyone is talking about.
The thing is, we are all aging. It doesn’t really matter what your chronological age is. We are ALL aging. Birth to death. Every day. Every hour. Every second. We have no control over our biological time in this very small molecule abyss we know as earth. The only thing we can control is how we respond to the events encountered during our timeline here.
Come to think of it, our time here is finite. Life on Earth is so small, and so precious, that we can’t even begin to think about this place without us. Yes, I said it. We have a hard time self-realizing the fact that we will not be here at some point. The majority of the population goes on living their lives in such a way where living in the moment is all that matters. The future is a mere concept only thought of when you, well…reach it. This is all certainly true, to a point.
The reality is such. Conversations about how you want to receive care during end of life should be discussed, and discussed often. It is a process. You can live moment to moment, but let some of those moments involve conversations with your loved ones about how you want your aging process to look.
The conversation about long-term care should be an on-going family discussion. Everyone should be on the same page with our wishes. They are your wishes. Here are a few things you can think about before beginning the long-term care discussion:
- Schedule the conversation on a day or at a time and place where everyone involved can actively participate.
- Begin the discussion addressing the senior’s wishes.
- Offer minimal interruption or narration.
- Write down questions to ask after the senior has addressed sensitive topics.
- Discuss in-home or instructional placement expectations.
- Discuss potential caregiving needs and expectations.
The butterfly effect of aging is a real thing. What we do in our younger days, at any age, can have an effect on our health as we stack decades behind us. Many people like to say I should have done this, or I should have said that. Others have an imperial mindset, where no regrets exist, and their lives played out exactly as they’d imagined. That is until they have a catastrophic health event and find themselves out of the conversation completely. Make your voice known now so you won’t need to worry about the time when you may not be able to speak.
The certainties of the statistics mentioned above foreshadow some realities on the horizon for the aging population. In as much, we know 65 is not necessarily when people are packing up their desks and retiring. People are now working well into their 70’s and some into their 80’s. In some cases, seniors find it more beneficial to put off retirement financially in the long run. Unfortunately, in many underserved communities, there is no choice but to continue working. In turn, health care costs will continue to rise and any retirement pensions will wear thin. Now is the time to consider later.