The end is near. No, really. And it's not going to be pretty.
Don't take it from me, though. The ones issuing the doomsday proclamation this time are the folks at AARP. And they're talking about you, baby boomers.
Seems it's the same old mathematical equation story, with a twist. We all know there are lots of baby boomers. (Hence the name. Get it?) But there isn't another "boom" generation following the boomers. (Go figure: Baby boomers invented sex, but then they stopped having babies.) Thus, as the boomers age, there are going to be fewer folks available to take care of them.
Or, as my colleague Walter Hamilton put it (he's better with numbers than I am):
Shifting demographics mean that aging boomers will have fewer friends and family members to take care of them as they get into their 80s, according to a new study by AARP.
The ratio of potential caregivers to boomers needing care will sink from 7.2 to 1 in 2010 to 2.9 to 1 by 2050, according to the study.
I'm not great with ratios and stuff like that. But, as with all statistics, I figure you can take this two ways.
It's bad news: You've fallen and can't get up, and there's no one to help you get up.
Or, it’s good news: You’ve fallen and can’t get up, but at least you don’t have a caregiver who can’t help you get up because he or she is texting friends about how boring her job is, how she hates old people and/or did you see
Now, AARP, being an organization that caters to old people -- sorry, seniors -- minces no words when warning boomers:
"More than two-thirds of Americans believe they will be able to rely on their families to meet their needs when they need long-term care," said Lynn Feinberg, AARP senior policy analyst and one of the report's authors. "But this confidence is likely to deflate when it collides with the dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers in the future."
Really, though, this isn’t news to most boomers. We’ve seen our children. Our confidence was deflated long ago when it comes to the “availability of family caregivers in the future.” Most of our children can’t get up before noon, can’t/won’t find work and think “mom” and “dad” are synonymous with “ATM.” Oh yes, and they are eager to help around the house -- unless that involves laundry, fixing meals, doing dishes, any kind of yard work and/or cleaning, food shopping and the like, which they apparently are
Who raised these kids, anyway?
So, no, I don't think most boomers were expecting the kids to care of them. Then again, most boomers never expected to get old, either (see Richards, Keith, or Joplin, Janis).
Anyway, the good news is there is a solution. And, as with most good things these days (provided you’re a liberal, of course), it comes from government. In this case,
Surely you remember those "death panels"?
Yes, one way or another, the end is near.