Four Facts about Boomer Parent Caregiving

In the midst of writing a book on communicating with family decision-makers in home health, Hospice and private duty care, I came up with the following facts:

Fact #1. The majority of people in their 50s and 60s have more parents alive than children.

Thanks to significant advances in life expectancy, more than 70% of Boomer parent caregivers have at least one living parent.

At the same time, family sizes of Boomer households have shrunk from previous generations. Increases in longevity of older individuals mean that many will have to care for their parents for a longer period of time than previous generations did.

Implication: The need for caregiving assistance will remain strong. Changing demographics within families have prolonged the time in which Boomers have both parent and children needs.

At a time in life when many are looking ahead to their own retirement, Boomers are likely either to have parents who are still living, children who are still young or adult children who are still in need of financial and other support.

Fact #2. Baby Boomers are the first generation for whom a majority has already experienced divorce.

Today, the percentage of first-marriage divorce is about 50%, according to the U. S. Census Bureau. Additionally, recent research shows that one in four people over age 50, divorce for the first time.

Divorce can be a painful and stressful event for one or both parties. Dealing with adult caregiving of divorced parents complicates family decision-making.

Implication: Divorce likely will affect the nature of your retirement community business with Boomer caregivers. Many important decisions may need to be made by the family—such as dividing assets (financial, the home, pension plans and personal property). Overall, the family is concerned about how to make ends meet, sometimes on reduced incomes.

Fact #3. Sociologists predict women in their 50s will spend more years caring for their parents than they did for their children.

The “sandwich generation” is a term that describes those caring for parents and raising children at the same time. Statistics show that women will spend on average 17 years caring for their children, and 18 years caring for one or more parents. Boomer daughters are far and away the prominent family parent caregiver.

Implication: Boomer parent caregivers you deal with are apt to lead busy lives, and have limited time dealing with their parent’s issues. They seek ways to simplify their lives and create more time. The retirement community services you provide helps them manage their time more effectively and efficiently.

Fact # 4: Many parent caregivers are Baby Boomers (aged 50-64) who are actively employed, working either full time or part time.

Recent studies indicate that a high number of Boomers plan to work well into their normal retirement years. An AARP study shows that 87% of Boomers say they will continue to work well into retirement.

Implication: Parent caregiving may force many to quit their jobs, downsize their workload or work out flextime arrangements that allow them to perform their caregiving duties. The overall results are lost income, health care coverage and retirement plan contributions.

For my list of 10 true/false questions about parent caregivers, email me at [email protected].