Lynn Baby boomers face crisis in parent care

LYNN – The Baby Boomer generation is feeling the squeeze, in many cases bringing up children who are nearing adulthood while caring for aging parents at the same time.But options for cutting down on stress are available, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging, which has designated May as “Older Americans Month” for the past 44 years.The government agency wants Baby Boomers ? those Americans now between their mid-50s and late-60s ? to consider professional-care facilities. After all, many Americans are living longer and for Baby Boomers, and that translates to continuing responsibilities.Just how old is the U.S. population?The Administration on Aging notes that about one in every eight Americans, or 12.4 percent, is a senior citizen. People age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.4 years, which means many of these senior citizens will live well into their 80s.Further, most of these older Americans have at least one chronic medical condition, and many have multiple conditions. For example, 49 percent suffer from hypertension, 31 percent have heart disease, and 15 percent are diagnosed with diabetes.Medical problems aren’t the only obstacles to healthy living in the golden years. Nearly 11 percent of older Americans live below the poverty line, and half of women age 75 or older live alone, without a caregiver in the house.The situation isn’t likely to abate any time soon, considering that by the year 2030, the over-65 population will have more than doubled.”By 2030, one in five Americans will be a senior citizen. That’s a lot of people,” said Jeanne Leydon, director of client services for Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS). “For the first time in the history of civilization there will be more older people worldwide than younger.”According to Leydon, those senior citizens will live longer and healthier and, perhaps more importantly, will want to remain at home. “So what you have is a cresting swell of all these different programs to address these changing times,” she said. “In the past, people often went from nursing home to hospice, and hospice came a long way as a result. But now there are creative services to help people at home.”Statistics show a marked decrease in the number of days the average older person spends in a nursing home, said Leydon, who attributes some of that decline to the Equal Choice legislation adopted in Massachusetts two year ago.”You can spend money on long-term care in a nursing home or you can put the money back into the community,” she said. “In Oregon, Minnesota and Maine they’ve done this and they are actually saving money.”Leydon explained that while some people need care 24-7, they are in the minority. “You have very few of those people compared to the greater number who only want somebody who can come into their home, deliver a meal, make the bed, mop the floor, help them out of the tub or do some of the little things. Maybe it’s going shopping with them, or something as simple as chopping carrots because the person has arthritis and can’t do it. These people balance off the ones who need 24-7 care,” she said. “Because of the Equal Choice, Massachusetts hopes to save $135 million over five years, starting from the time the bill was passed.”In Massachusetts, more than 10,400 people are being kept at home instead of in nursing homes as a result of the legislation, she said, adding, “At GLSS, we have 525 people clinically eligible to be in nursing homes, but they are at home because of services we put in place for them. It’s the little things that make the difference.”Massachusetts is also moving toward acceptance of a program that would reimburse sons and daughters who care for their parents, she said.Stephen Neff, chief executive officer for the Jewish Rehabilitation Center (JRC) of the North Shore, said some Baby Boomers supplement family-member care by using professional caregivers.”Others turn to outside help for most care when logistics, geography, work schedules or e

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