Baby boomers well into their final careers are increasingly discovering a new one: caregiver to elderly parents. And if current studies are to be believed, boomers themselves are more than likely to need long-term care. A new report out of Canada suggests that “baby boomers will have to develop non-traditional caregiver networks, or pay for long-term care facility care” in our neighbor to the north.
Today, up to 70% of the care provided to the elderly comes from an informal network of spouses, children and close family. But the baby-boom generation is unlike previous generations in that they have relatively few children, and stable couples are a rarity, according to researchers at the Université de Montréal. Baby boomers “risk finding themselves in difficult circumstances and might have to turn to the public system or pay their way,” says professor Jacques Légaré, who authored the study of aging boomers.
Friends, siblings or cousins could make up a new, non-traditional model of caregiving for seniors who can’t afford assisted living or skilled nursing care, Légaré suggests. The paper was presented this week at the 2010 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Concordia University in Montreal.
In the U.S., most surveys put the figure of “informal caregivers” — family members or friends — closer to 80%, and estimates of the number of boomers likely to need long-term care themselves go up with virtually every new study.
Choices in long-term care also are going up, though. The National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information is a government-run (Department of Health and Human Services) site that offers information and resources for long-term care planning — along with some eye-opening information about costs and coverage.
Baby boomers can take heart in the fact that innovative models are being developed in many states, and possibilities are being pursued in both public and private sectors. Non-traditional networks may be the new best thing for this looming fact of boomer futures.