By Clare Goldsberry
A recent video by the Wall Street Journal (A Son’s Struggle to Keep His Promise, Jan. 2, 2019) offered a look into the struggle of 66-year-old Ken, a Baby Boomer in Massachusetts, as he tries to keep his promise to his 93-year-old mother that she can stay in her own home until her death. She has been in her home, which is paid for, for 50 years and wants to stay there, but the challenges for her son are growing greater as she gets older and faces the onset of dementia.
Many of us in the Baby Boomer generation have made those promises, and like Ken, are finding those promises more difficult to keep as our parents age into their 90s. According to the Wall Street Journal’s video, there are 44 million family caregivers providing $500 billion worth of free care to their family members. Like Ken, providing this care is taking its toll, both physically and financially, on many Baby Boomers who are entering retirement age themselves.
Many, like Ken, are continuing to work even though they are collecting Social Security, just to have the funds to help their parents, some of who have gone through their savings and living on minimal Social Security themselves. Our parents are living longer which means they increasingly need more care.
According to the video, 40% of Baby Boomers do not have enough savings for their own retirement. That means dipping into their savings to help elderly parents who often have health problems, will result in even less money for their own retirement. Ken, who works as a freelance photographer and teaches college classes, has enlisted his own son to help when Ken is unavailable and a home health aide who visits for one hour each day to help. Additionally, three neighbors watch out for Ken’s mother. It truly “takes a village.”
Fortunately for the Greater Phoenix area, there is help for Baby Boomers who are struggling with elder care for their parents. For 30 years, Duet has been providing programs to help elderly people stay in their own homes by providing free services through volunteers such as grocery shopping with or for a “neighbor” (the people Duet helps are our neighbors!); transportation to doctors’ appointments; friendly visiting or friendly phoning; programs for family caregivers; and a kinship program for grandparents raising grandchildren. For family caregivers, anyone caring for an aging loved one can benefit from our personalized guidance, mentors, general caregiver support groups, and even a video discussion series.
Many of these services are being performed for people who have no children or other relatives in the Phoenix area who can care for their loved ones. These services also give Baby Boomers who are still working a means of getting help at times when work prevents them from being available.
Many people left their hometowns back East to retire in sunny Arizona, leaving their families behind. Now that they have aged to the point of needing help, Duet is here to offer the help they need in order to help Baby Boomer children fulfill their promise of keeping their parents in their own homes.