If you’re a Baby Boomer like me (born between 1946 and 1964) or you’re a caregiver to one, it’s worth mentioning that the need for caregivers is only going to be increasing in the coming decade. If you know anything about the baby boomer demographics, you know this is a tidal wave that is just beginning.
In its annual report on The State of Health and Aging in 2004, the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the aging Baby Boomer generation represented a “demographic tidal wave” that threatens to overwhelm health care delivery in the U.S. It’s no surprise that the report called for a new focus on training and generally equipping our generation (and our kids) to be prepared to be caregivers.
Here are some ideas for keeping your head above water as this tidal wave envelops us:
- Refresh (or acquire) first aid training, including CPR. Your local adult education program or Red Cross chapter has classes. Urge your kids to do the same.
- Gather your life documents into one file. A friend’s mom did so, and when she died suddenly (and unexpectedly) all of her information was in one notebook. Everything from funeral arrangements to birth certificates… life insurance policies to vehicle pink slips… and more. It’s a bit of a process to assemble, but it makes dealing in a crisis much easier for everyone.
- Do the same organizing for your medical information. Make a list of all the drugs you take. Be sure to include the dosage for each drug. What are the names, addresses and phone numbers of all of your doctors? Create a health history for yourself, listing all the significant illnesses, conditions, injuries and surgeries that you’ve had.
- TALK. Have conversations with your loved ones about what your hopes and concerns are for your future care and well-being. Document your advance directives so there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind what you want. There are lots of forms available online.
Think of this kind of preparation as strategic planning so that you and your loved ones are prepared for a crisis. It’s a way to begin stocking your life raft for when that big wave of care hits.