Independence: The Good and The Bad

Baby Boomers are fiercely, incredibly independent, and they come by this rightly. The group of people born between 1946 and 1964 are the largest, most powerful generation in U.S. history. Boomers have contributed positively to social change in their decades of life. But, as Casey Holstein, owner of SYNERGY HomeCare Metro & Hudson New Jersey, says, “That fierce independence is great until it isn’t. At some point, that independence becomes a burden on them and their loved ones.” So this week, I want to discuss the impact that the need for caregiving has — on the healthcare industry, business, and family and friends.

I’ve addressed certain aspects of caregiving in previous blogs. As I’ve mentioned before, Third Chapter people want to age-in-place. In fact, 2018 statistics from AARP found that 86 percent of people aged 65 and older want to remain in their community and current home for as long as possible. Coupled with that is a stunning statistic: in a 20-year span, between 1997 and 2017 the number of seriously ill older adults who would rather die than be placed in a nursing home doubled, from 30 percent to 61 percent. At the same time, most older adults fear that they will become a burden to their children or other relatives or friends. So what to do?

Employee Benefits for Caregivers — A New Conversation in HR

One conversation increasingly in the forefront of many HR departments is how to expand caregiver benefits for employees dealing with an aging parent or grandparent. The discussion comes from the effect that caring for an older family member has on employees who are part of the “sandwich generation” — adults with children at home and parents, all of whom need care — and younger adults, who may have willingly taken on caring for grandma or grandpa. Add to the mix of possibilities a spouse who becomes unexpectedly disabled by illness or an accident, leaving an otherwise energetic 50- or 60-something-year-old caregiver can become overwhelmed. The negative effects of stress have been well documented, so the discussion in many companies is founded on alleviating the stress of caregiving through such benefits as time off and flexible schedules. With less stress, many companies believe, employees will increase their performance levels.

Help can also come in the form of a home care worker, but expense and availability make this an option beyond the reach of many.

Home Care Worker Changes — Fighting The Good Fight

Unfortunately, there is a home care worker shortage in the United States right now. It has been increasing throughout the pandemic and shows no signs of abetting under current industry practices. Overall, employees are fleeing such companies due to being underpaid and undervalued; most receive no health care or retirement benefits. Many also are undertrained for the work that is asked of them. An overhaul of the home care industry — or a rededication to the value of its employees — is necessary.

One piece of legislation that might help, at least in the short-term, is the Preserving Access to Home Health Act of 2022, introduced in July to the Senate. The bipartisan bill would prevent the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from reducing home health payments this year — and until 2026. Introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. Learn more about the contents of the bill. To encourage support for this bill, contact your senators. LeadingAge, the well-known advocacy organization for older adults, also has a campaign to make it easy for older adults to make their voices heard.

What Are Fiercely Independent Baby Boomers To Do?

Something that we are usually slow to do and execute in a half-hearted manner: Ask for help. We don’t acknowledge the human need for self-care as part of self-preservation. It’s time for people raised on protest and social change to advocate for themselves. To survive and thrive as caregivers for family, friends, and the community we must seek services, take pauses, and accept help as a show of our strength in Third Chapter Living. 

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age-in-place.

2 Comments

  1. bill raiford on September 26, 2022 at 10:39 am

    ii could not download comment by abdurahman on “intergenerational living.”

    any help available? bill r

    • Barb Powell on September 26, 2022 at 10:59 am

      Hi, Bill, Not sure why it isn’t downloading — possibly an internet glitch at the moment somewhere. I can access it and it says, “I find these Third Chapter Living articles easy to read and practical.

      Please keep them coming.”

      Thanks.
      Barb Powell, Third Chapter Living

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