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Aging in America: Challenges Facing Baby Boomers

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Aging in America is being transformed by the baby boomers, the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Over the next decade, this generation will face both opportunities and potential crises. Their effect on aging in America is only their next stop as baby boomers changed every stage of life since their beginning.

The world wasn’t prepared for baby boomers. We didn’t have enough hospitals or pediatricians, teachers or playgrounds, or even bedrooms in homes. The size of this generation alone has strained institutions and society at every stage.

Back in their school years, some children had to go to class in shifts. This should serve as a warning for what’s to come. Today, baby boomers are reaching the age to need long term care and geriatric medicine. But the question many are asking is, “Are we prepared for this?”

Back when baby boomers were born, people lived to their 50s and 60s. Today, they’re going back to school at 40 and running marathons at age 80. Many hit their stride in their later years and are living longer with access to good medical care.

Social Security

But how will baby boomers affect Social Security? Back in 1940, people were expected to live 63.5 years and nearly 9 million Americans were receiving Social Security. By 2015, people were expected to live 78.74 years with 64.2 million people receiving Social Security and not enough people in the workforce to handle the demand.

Boomers are expected to experience challenges due to entitlement program shortfalls that could rival those of their parents and grandparents in the Great Depression if not corrected beforehand.

Home Modifications

Boomers have a fierce desire to be independent which could lead to an increase in home and community-based care models. To help boomers stay at home longer, homes will need to be modified with grab bars, wheelchair ramps, and elder security devices to alert companies or families in an emergency. Growing elder care technology can help boomers age at home well.

The concern for many aging in America is, “How will I afford care?” Home modifications and care services are expensive and could quickly drain a retirement account or savings. Long Term Care Insurance entered the market in the 1980s to help pay for modifications in the home, home care, or care in a facility.

Long Term Care

Baby boomers are already hitting long term care facilities with more waves expected to hit soon. Remember the story of baby boomer school children going to class in shifts? If we aren’t prepared for the rush to come, we could run out of facilities and care workers to take care of this booming generation. Immigration is an important and timely topic because often it’s immigrants who help fill these important roles and work other jobs which contribute to Social Security funding.

Chronic diseases will continue to drive health care costs and good health care will keep people alive longer. Fidelity estimated a retired couple will need $275,000 to pay for health care alone. Even if you plan for health care costs, there’s still the next phase of long term care to pay for as mobility declines and longer stays in care facilities become necessary.

Are you protected? Get a quote for Long Term Care Insurance and learn more about planning for a secure retirement.

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