Childless boomer in search of circle of care

childless boomerChildless boomer is a term coined by the aging professional community.

A childless boomer is defined as someone who reaches old age with no family or friends left that can provide care for him/her. A shortage of caregivers in our aging society is already a serious issue and is projected to worsen.

Baby boomers need to be proactive about addressing the questions that inevitably accompany the aging years. Conversations, even with oneself, about old age and end of life are difficult. Start by writing down worries, concerns, and try to answer the hard questions about dying and death.

  • What happens if I no longer can drive?
  • Who will support me during a hospitalization and after discharge to home?
  • Who will help me manage my monthly bills?
  • Where should I live when I no longer can manage my residence independently?
  • How will I maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, recreation, exercise, etc.?

These questions and more likely will lead to a need for dialogues with loved ones, trusted healthcare providers, spiritual leaders and legal counsel. In turn, these dialogues help to build a circle of care – a team of care managers and care providers.

Resources that help facilitate difficult end of life planning conversations include:

  • Five Wishes: this is a type of living will, (written with assistance from The American Bar Association) that can be accessed online or you can order a hard copy. Unlike other living will formats, Five Wishes addresses your personal, emotional and spiritual desires along with your medical wishes. Once the document has been completed and signed, it is valid in most states. The document speaks for you in the event you are seriously ill and cannot speak for yourself. No one will have to guess what you want. It is easy to complete.
  • Advance directives: healthcare Power of Attorney (PoA), durable Power of Attorney (DPoA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorization, estate plan (will or trust). You can seek an attorney’s guidance or download documents from the Web to designate who and under what circumstances will someone you appoint act on your behalf.

Working through these exercises and documents is a way to identify and name the people that you want on your team. A childless boomer, parents of an only child, estranged families are examples of individuals and circumstances where one may need to look beyond traditional family supports  for trustworthy friends or professionals to serve as your health or financial proxy.

“The key thing is choosing someone who will enforce the decisions that you’ve already made.”
— Bert Rahl, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Source: Next Avenue July 23, 2015 article Who Will Provide Care for Childless Boomers?