Preparing for Old Age in the Global Community

  • Oct-30-2013
  • Richard Reich
Preparing for Old Age

Today’s college graduates feel the weight of responsibility on their shoulders. Not only do they feel pressure to job search and start their careers, many face the responsibility of caring for the elderly within their family. Learning about assisted elderly care has now grown to be part of the global college student’s “curriculum.”

Why It Matters

Reporting for Pew Research, Kim Parker and Eileen Patten cite Bureau of Labor Statistics showing 14 percent of adults over the age of 15 have or are currently providing care for at least one aging parent. As baby boomers exit the “sandwich” generation (the generation of individuals raising children and grandchildren while providing emotional, financial and physical support for aging parents), younger adults need to step in to fill these crucial roles.

The National Center for Education Statistics projects a 20 percent increase in college enrollment for students over the age of 25 between 2010 and 2020. While the age of college graduates is rising, family responsibility affects adults in all age groups.

Younger Americans who explore the challenges and social components of aging today are best positioned to find solutions to care for aging relatives. Learning about retirement for when they will age into the role of parents in need of assistance is a bonus.

What to Expect in the U.S.

Americans are more receptive to transitioning older relatives into retirement facilities. Of course, both parents and children want to live a comfortable lifestyle. One option is assisted living communities. Caregivers look for communities that offer a carefree lifestyle that includes assistance with hygiene, light housekeeping and medication administration.

Finding assisted living locations in Mesa, Arizona, for example, might include considering Emeritus Senior Living. Emeritus provides a full range of services from day programs where seniors have a chance to socialize, take field trips and enjoy a hot meal with peers to Independent Living Community services that support independence with increased security and maintenance-free apartments.

What to Expect in Sweden

Unlike the U.S., elder care in Sweden is primarily funded by government subsidies and tax payer contributions. According to the Swedish Institute, the life expectancy continues to increase, and most older residents are in overall good health. Programs to support autonomy and independence are the norm today.

Rather than moving into a retirement home or an assisted living community, municipalities provide access to home care that includes 24-hour medical care when necessary. Eldercare trends in Nordic communities focus on allowing an aging population to remain in private homes for as long as possible, then transition to a medical unit when medical intervention is more prevalent.

What to Expect in China

Traditionally, families in China have shown a strong filial commitment to aging relatives. The One Child Policy may be partly to blame for a recent shift away from multi-generational communal living toward increasingly independent lifestyles for younger Chinese individuals. Officials passed new legislation in July that not only requires family members to visit older relatives, but also mandates that employers allow workers to take time off without recourse to visit aging relatives.

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