Yesterday’s South Section of the Boston Globe had a two-page story on the coming boom in the senior population. It’s reassuring to read that senior centers are reexamining their goals and programming in light of the change in clientele. The biggest issues I see facing my clients are (1) bringing in the support system required to remain at home for as long as possible and (2) transportation.
So far the societal responses to these needs have been minimal. Take transportation – the Ride is, well, a long ride. The senior centers have vans, but you need to set up your appointment in advance, and their funding allows them to transport seniors only for certain types of activities. Poor transportation options as an elder or disabled person have been the flip-side to the choice of living the quiet life in the suburbs.
As for remaining at home for as long as possible, there is more help available here, and I help my clients access the resources available to them as best as possible. There is veteran’s funding, MassHealth money, and then good old fashioned creativity – like setting up a contract with a child that allows her to leave her job in order to care for her parents, yet be paid so that she can still meet her own obligations at home. Or, another example would be two or three elderly neighbors sharing the services of a personal shopper or a personal chef so that the grocery shopping and cooking is taken care of.
As a society, we expect to be taken care of in our old age, yet we encourage our children to cross the county in search of their dreams, so we don’t have a built-in support system. And we don’t like to pay taxes. So who will care for the Boomers? I think the coming decades will see a blossoming of the American “creative spirit” – neighbors banding together to develop shared living arrangements, new businesses developing to serve seniors at home at prices they can afford. And in the mean time, each aging Boomer should be saving up funds for what they hope will be a long retirement. Meeting with a trusted financial advisor would be a very good first step.