Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Our Aging Society

After reading the story of my wife and I being in the emergency room for six hours with my mother in law in my Monday thoughts, someone asked me my feelings about caring for the elderly. I am no expert on this subject but I do have some thoughts and concerns. One of the Ten Commandments is "Honor thy Father and thy Mother". Perhaps in today's world and certainly in the not too distant future it should be changed to "Take care of thy Father and thy Mother". As my generation starts to approach old age, I think we are on the verge of a huge medical crisis. Even now, when most men and women work full time, and our parents become elderly, my generation is stressed. Baby boomers are also called the "Sandwich Generation". We are caught in the middle. Our children and grandchildren have needs and our elderly parents have needs. We are expected to meet them all. My wife and I have three living parents from age 77 to 82. Two of them are at some stage of dementia/senility. We have brothers and sisters who share in their care. Some are able to do more than others. I am concerned about the time when my wife and I are as old as our parents are now. We are part of the largest generation in history. Who will take care of all the elderly and sick baby boomers? I have talked to some young people who want to become doctors. None of them want to go into geriatrics. Old people can be demanding and difficult to deal with sometimes. All of our heathcare systems will be stressed. Geriatrics is probably not as much fun as pediatrics. Yet, in twenty or thirty years when I am 75 to 85 years old, and much of the population is the same age, who will care for us? Many baby boomers only have one or two children so our care could be a much bigger burden to our children than our parents are to us. I don't know the answer but we better start thinking about it.

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