Now is the time: Being Proactive as you age [for Baby Boomers and Generation X]
It’s never too late to do the right thing. And that is true even when it comes to aging well. If you are over 50 or you have a parent over 65, now is the time to establish those connections that can help you and your loved one enjoy life as you age. Exercising, eating healthily, practicing mindfulness, meditating and avoiding such vices as cigarettes and excessive drinking have become the hallmarks of healthy living. But there is another component of health and wellness that should be considered as you age, and that is professional care management.
Knowledge is power
Professional care management is a relatively new industry. Baby boomers—persons born between 1946 and 1964—are now recognized as the largest and fastest aging population. Generation X—post-boomers born between 1965 and 1981—are likely to be caregivers of their baby boomer parents while raising their own children or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older), according to a Pew Research study in 2013. Over the years, the dynamics of these two groups have changed aging care. “Today we have many, many working families or single-parent families. A lot of people are in what they call the ‘sandwich generation‘ where they have aging parents and may have children of their own,” comments Judy Siderer, a senior and geriatric care manager at Intervention Associates. In addition, many adult children “live far from their aging parents, so you’ve got a situation where they have to care for their parents’ long distance, which is very difficult as people age. Sometimes people are just burned out by the needs and demands of their aging parents,” Siderer points out.
Judy Siderer has been with Intervention Associates, a care and guardianship management service, for 28 years. She has seen the changes and has witnessed the growth in the need for supportive care, especially within the Greater Philadelphia area.
Based on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report summarized by AARP, “analysts from the government agency wrote that a cognitive disability (serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions) is more common among younger adults, while mobility disability (serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs) ranks number one among older adults. Older adults were more likely to have a disability.”
Knowing these statistics should underscore the need to be proactive as you age. Siderer substantiates this need in the number of clients in their 50s that come to Intervention Associates:
We have had a number of people approach us in their 50s. Sometimes these people have no family or they don’t have any family nearby or they feel as if they don’t want to bother their family. They arrange a meeting with us to get to know us and for us to get to know them, so that as they head toward being seniors, they know that they have something in place and somebody in place if they should have needs for care, assistance in navigating the medical system, or an advocate. They know that they can come to us. So it’s interesting that we’ve seen people start at a younger age than what might typically be considered geriatric.
Generally, age 65 is considered geriatric, so this is quite a change in recent years. Sometimes these clients just need a support person for an event. For example, Siderer describes a patient who recently had a surgery. She simply wanted someone who could “shepherd” her, as Siderer describes it, through the process. Intervention Associates helped her through her pre-op testing. Then, during the surgery, they stayed in touch with her family, updated her power of attorney, and helped her find a rehab center after she left the hospital. Siderer was also there to pick her up from the hospital and found caregivers to stay with her a few weeks.
This is just one way populations from Generation X are using Intervention Associates’ services.
However, the majority of Siderer’s clients are referred to her by families—the adult children. Others are referred to her by attorneys and trust officers who are working with clients and finding out that their clients are having difficulties managing their lives. They may have trouble remembering things, making meals for themselves, paying their bills, managing taking multiple medications at a time and/or keeping appointments.
Preparation is peace of mind
Loss, in terms of physical or cognitive ability, can be stressful. Proper preparation, however, can help buffer the effects of such changes. Many families who meet Siderer and the Intervention Associates team are so thankful that they have found them.
“They all say the same thing, that they’re just so happy to have found us, to have found an organization that could take care of all the needs of their parents [and] at the same time including them in the process and communicating with the families,” shares Siderer.
In Siderer’s words, she and the team at Intervention Associates essentially become surrogate family members. They become a part of these families’ lives, communicating with them constantly to keep them involved and up-to-date. This sense of connectedness is mutual. “I think that the client feels that way, and also the client’s family feels that way. I think it offers them a lot of assurance and peace of mind to know that we have the expertise and the resources and the ability to take care of all the needs of their parents as they age.”
Siderer may sound like a “Wonder Woman”, but with 28 years in the field of professional care management, she is justly confident that the team of care managers can handle any situation thrown at them. “As care managers, we always like to say we take care of everything, from soup to nuts. There’s very, very little we can’t do to keep a person safe and secure with the highest quality of life as they go through the aging process,” boasts Siderer. Siderer loves her work and she has an affinity for the geriatric population, whom she regards as the most vulnerable.
So if you are planning on being proactive about aging well, or if you have aging parents that you care about, now is the time to consider professional care management. Intervention Associates has trained professional care managers to help you now and in the future.