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By Chemane Rene’
Are you a Baby Boomer who wants to talk to your adult kids about getting older but don’t know where to begin? You’re not alone. Perhaps you’re a Gen-X’er curious about your parent’s future but find it hard to broach the subject? You’re also not alone.
When it comes to getting older, there is often a disconnect between generations. Parents will go to great lengths to avoid burdening their children with the struggles of aging; and yet our adult children want to be involved in mom and dad’s aging future. Unfortunately, we simply lack the knowledge or support to make these conversations happen. How can this be?
Simply put, the topic of aging is ‘taboo’ for most families. And I’m talking about intelligent, active, loving families just like you, who understand that the challenges of aging are approaching, but find it easier to delay the discussion for another day.
If you are like more than half of Americans 55+ years old who haven’t created a plan for the last third of their lives, don’t fret. It’s never too early – or too late – to start talking about your future with your spouse and your adult children.
“Mom never talked with me about what she wanted. And I never asked her. We just didn’t talk about that stuff.”
First of all, what does it mean to plan for the last third of your life? I refer to it as planning your story.
When you plan your story, you are preparing your family for any of the myriad aging challenges that lie ahead on your journey. As a result, healthy and proactive families are prepared to care for loved ones.
We all know about the baby boomers, but for perspective, did you know 10,000 people in America are turning 65 every day?
Of the 34 million people in the U.S. who are providing care for an aging loved one over 50, most are doing it silently and with no support. As you might expect, the stress and demands on these working caregivers are overwhelming. You’ll often find them late to work, early to leave and distracted throughout the workday.
Torn between family obligations and duties at work, there is rarely a balance for these over-taxed caregivers. According to a study by the AARP, 11 percent of these workers will take a leave of absence and 39 percent will unexpectedly quit their careers.
Planning for aging care is an escalating public health issue, but it doesn’t have to be. Family dialogue prevents unnecessary suffering and supports individual preferences related to the last third of our lives. By planning their story, families everywhere will establish shared goals, engage in advance planning, and ultimately improve the aging experiences of loved ones.
Learn more about planning for aging care at the NCET Biz Café at Rounds Bakery at 3 pm on May 15. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces networking events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology. More info at NCETcafe.org.
Chemane Rene’ is a gerontology specialist, speaker and co-founder of Plan Your Story, a national organization based in Reno, Nevada dedicated to helping families plan the last third of their lives.