By Kim Bassett
Each generation develops its own identity as they move through society. Much of this is a cause and effect relationship as they have to adapt to the political and economical climate in order to survive and thrive.
- The Greatest Generation, those who grew up in the United States during the Great Depression and fought in World War II.
- The Baby Boomers, those born between 1946-1964, the post-World War II baby boom, deemed the wealthiest, most active and most physically fit generation, with the perspective and expectation that the world will improve over time.
- Generation X (born between 1964-1980), a somewhat undefined generation born on the precursors to the youngest generation, the Millennials. Generation X started the movement among its younger cohorts for better work-life balance.
- Millennials (those born at the turn of the century between 1980 and 2000) place even more emphasis on a work-life balance, often demanding non-traditional work environments. Millennials are also said to be civically and community minded, almost altruistic in their actions.
I believe this nurturing vein that runs strong in Millennials will be an asset as the Baby Boomers age and their needs become more and more apparent.
Millennials will inevitably serve as the primary caretakers to their Boomer moms, dads, and in some instances, grandparents, as they require additional care. In a study conducted by the National Alliance of Caregivers and the AARP, of 75.4 million millennials, 9.5 million are already in a caregiver role.
While the market for older adult care is already on the rise, it is set to explode by the year 2032, when 106 million Americans over 50 will generate more than $13.5 trillion in annual economic activity. Fact: 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age each day, accounting for a 73 percent increase in the 65+ population. Of those, 30 million are forecast to have a chronic health condition by 2030. While they are living longer, they are less healthy than their mom’s and dad’s of the Greatest Generation — with chronic diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. The oldest boomers are turning 70 and the youngest are in their early 50s.
The good news is that Boomers typically have resources to spend on home care and the technology being developed to extend the quality of their lives. Boomers want to stay in their homes as long as possible, maintaining the highest quality of life. Unlike the generation before them, Boomers are often still supporting their parents, adult children — and in growing numbers — even their grandchildren, which also means they are working longer, reluctant to retire, often seeking out alternative non-traditional means of generating revenue. Such as in-home consulting, interim positions and/or other revenue building opportunities.
Boomers, with a steady means of generating income into their 70s and 80s, are creating opportunity for Millennials in the business world to create solutions to meet their growing needs. So beyond the day-to-day caretaker role, they will be challenged to create new care delivery solutions.
Here are a few of the issues Millennials will be asked to solve:
- Advanced pharmaceuticals, anything that allows the Boomers to keep doing what they like to do;
- Housekeeping services, making it easier for Boomers to stay home and maintain their quality of life;
- Home health care services that range all the way from an in-home RN to a home-health assistant that fixes a few meals, etc.;
- Development and growth of assisted living facilities and retirement communities;
- Exercise and fitness activities and equipment to support those activities to keep people mobile;
- Nutrition and nutritional supplements — formulate natural ways to alleviate health issues such as high blood pressure, kidney function, etc.
Each generation develops its own identity and much of that identity is based on the history and needs of previous generations. Millennials are uniquely poised to combine traditional care-taking roles with the use of existing and emerging technology in supporting the health and well-being of previous generations.