You know you are a fading generation when you use an expression like circling the wagon and no younger person knows what you mean. Go back to the classic frontier movies when the settlers in horse drawn covered wagons were crossing dangerous territory. When all seems lost they ‘circled the wagons’ together to fight off whatever evil was out there until the cavalry hopefully arrived to save them.
Looking ahead to another frontier when there are more people over the age of 60 than schoolchildren, when the million plus new openings for paid caregivers can’t be filled due to low wages and poor working conditions, when the largest percentage of population growth is in the over the age of 85 bracket, where will the heroes come from then?
The Senior Housing industry is still building assisted living units that people can’t afford. Bright minds are creating sensors to track your every breath, activity or potential falls. They still require a living person somewhere on the other end to bring assistance whether you are on the back hallway of a nursing home or in your own living room.
The math is just not good if we rely solely on the younger generation. Twenty four percent of boomer age women never had children. The divorce rate is the highest among the boomer generation than any other before them. It is like the old Ghost busters chant, who are you going to call? As important a question is, who are you going to interact with? Communities that are smaller and well established and have local walk-ability have a real advantage. Everybody knows your name.
A large number of seniors are spread out in semi rural suburban communities where there is no natural antidote to encourage socialization. There have been bills introduced in Congress to set up senior volunteer corps where younger volunteers gain college credit, stipends or Pell grants to help out. Both bills failed, one in 2017 and another in 2018.
There is an effort being made through the Administration for Community Living , part of the Department of Human Services to set up and encourage the volunteerism that is already out there. The focus may be more on younger seniors helping older seniors. There is a mix of organizations already attempting to bring practical home care help to keep seniors in their homes, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Partners in Care and many location specific organizations have proven this concept can work through time banks. That goes beyond just feeling good about your ability to make a difference. It becomes a very practical option. Think of it as stocking up for the long winter. More on this later.
Read about the National Volunteer Care Corps here at: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USACL/bulletins/25e0e93