FRED FIRST: Boomers Gotta Have A Plan . . .

YOU CAN’T TREAD WATER FOREVER

By definition, you are a BABY BOOMER if you were born between 1946 and 1964. You have a lot of company. And the present is poorly prepared for the future care for the housing and healthcare needs of this population. Consider the stats:

LONG-TERM CARE STATISTICS

Most people will need some form of long-term services and supports in their lifetime, including assistance with daily activities such as bathing and dressing, because of a physical impairment or a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 70% of people currently turning 65 will require long-term care in their lifetime, and they will receive care for an average of 3 years. Eighteen percent of all seniors will require more than one year in a nursing facility.

Most individuals and families cannot simply cover these costs and services with their income and assets. Annual spending on long-term care in the United States–excluding unpaid family caregiving–has reached nearly $275 billion. Who is paying?–47% is Medicaid, 23% is Medicare, 23% by Families out-of-pocket expenses, less than 4% by Veterans/State programs and less than 3% is private long-term care insurance.

While the majority of long-term services have been provided by Medicare and Medicaid, funding deficiencies at the State and Federal level have placed a focus on the importance of long-term care insurance. The market for these insurance products has been rocky and remained small to date.The value of uncompensated care provided by family or friends is estimated at $450 billion annually.

So here we are, the wife and I, soon to turn 76. We live at some distance from the nearest family (we are both from small clans and have never lived closer than 4 hours from our nearest child or grand child.) We have many friends, but no caregivers.

We have lived (since 1997) in a very small, very isolated, very wonderful community that has provided amply for our civic-social, cultural and lifestyle needs. But it is not (yet) a good place to grow old and medically-needy.

In June 2020, we moved after twenty years from the place we loved (Goose Creek. Many of you know it. It was very very remote and not safely accessible) to the place we needed to be for our age and to accommodate anticipated future driving and mobility issues. We now love where we live, and we will leave it, too.

It is soon time to move again, for the last time. And we need to stick the landing.

TO FIX WHAT AIN’T BROKEN

Considering our options, both fiscally and physically, we have this one more move in us. It needs to be done soon—mindfully, carefully and cautiously. And that is why I am writing out my thoughts and our action time-line as I have been and will be doing here.

We have a plan.

We think it is right for us. It will be the most difficult transition of our adult lives. We are kind of excited by the known features of our future in equal amounts that we are also kind of terrified by the unknowns and unknowables. But we gotta walk that lonesome highway.

You will too, friends and neighbors. And the bottom line:

If you wait until you NEED reliable access to elder health and housing, it is TOO LATE.

DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE BOAT IS TAKING ON WATER

This is a decision and plan that must be made AHEAD OF NEED and THIS is what makes it so difficult.

If things are going along just fine today, why upset the apple cart? If it works, don’t fix it. Bad plan. No plan.

You can bail water for a while, but you’re gonna give out of strength and will, eventually, and be obliged to man (person?) the life rafts!

I hope maybe this narrative journey detailed here will be helpful for some of you who are boomers or have parents that are. They will be right behind us, as we enter the Continuum of Care. And more about that, next time.

– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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