March 25, 2006

Caring for Aging Parents

If there ever was a niche crying to be filled, it's the need to help boomers care for aging parents. Using the model for child care won't work says the New York Times in As Parents Age, Baby Boomers and Businesses Cope.

Only 1 percent of their companies subsidized any elder care benefits last year. And only 3 percent offered the emergency backup care — subsidized or otherwise — that experts say saves money by keeping workers at work.
Guiding the decisions of an elderly parent also requires mastery of arcane legal, financial and medical matters.

"It's a new and very confusing skill set," said Maureen Corcoran, a vice president at Prudential Financial. "You don't just give people a list; you lead them there. Otherwise they spend hours upon hours figuring it out themselves."

For both employees and employers, the costs of elder care are enormous, according to studies by the MetLife Mature Market Institute,
"Everyone I know is dealing with this," said Ms. Galinsky, who recently stayed at the bedside of her 98-year-old mother for the last two months of her life. The institute allows unlimited sick leave for such family emergencies. But even with that leeway, Ms. Galinsky said: "I was on another planet. It's like no other experience. I barely have words for how hard it is."

Posted by Jill Fallon at March 25, 2006 03:38 PM | Permalink

Not only will the childcare model not work, but boomers are much farther behind than they realize in terms of understanding what their parents really need and want (see this article in Senior Journal Part of the problem is that adult children have grown up in a non-communal world (close knit families that include older adults in their daily life) and lack essential information about the psychology of their aging parents. Below is a brief discussion about a book I wrote to provide a foundation for boomers like myself.

As one of the millions of baby boomers who work with the elderly, I struggled for years with communication issues. Why did I feel so frustrated, unappreciated, angry, and guilty when I was only trying to help them? It turned out I was not alone on this issue. I noticed all around me other baby boomers struggling with the same conflicts with their parents, patients, or clients. This resulted in a 15-year journey of research and rethinking how 50-something adults communicate with 70-something adults. The lessons learned from that journey are now available in a book by Prentice Hall that I think will be interest to your 50-something clients who are dealing with elderly parents. It changed my life and the lives of thousands of baby boomers that have learned about this pioneering perspective on the unique agenda of our oldest citizens. The title of the book is How To Say It To Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap With Our Elders. You can see more information about the book at:

Posted by: David Solie at March 26, 2006 09:06 PM