Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Elder-Care Costs Deplete Savings of a Generation

Jane Gross of the New York Times writes poignantly about the ways members of the boomer generation are depleting their own savings to care for their elderly parents. Increasingly, people almost old enough to retire are harnessed with the need to pay for their parents’ care or expenses. And those expenses are higher than ever before in history.

This problem will only increase as the boomers themselves become the aging parents. It behooves us to make plans now and talk to our kids while we’re all still healthy. Rehearse with them what we want done for us and what we don’t want and how to make those decisions when the time comes.

It’s important to decide to provide for ourselves as much as possible. As Boomers age, there will be increased pressure on the government to take care of us. Already people are complaining that Medicare doesn’t cover enough, that Medicare Part D doesn’t cover all prescription drugs, and that Medicaid is too hard to qualify for. While it’s convenient to think that the Nanny State can take care of all of us, the reality is, it can’t. There won’t be enough workers to support the care of the Boomer generation without bankrupting our children. The problem we are now seeing with our parents being unprepared for their end-of-life expenses are largely due to their thinking that things would always be as they have always been, that the little they squirreled away would be enough. But they didn’t count on living longer than any other generation in history and they didn’t count on exponential increases in medical and care costs. The only thing we can be sure of as our generation ages is that things will change more than we think they will and we need to be prepared for the unexpected. This is not an impossible task, but it will take some planning, some foresight, and a lot of facing reality.

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