When they don't have kids, a third of baby boomers anticipate
needing help from professional healthcare providers and four in 10
expect a close friend or neighbor will take care of them, the study
"Many will receive that care from their spouse or partner," said
study co-author Diana Kuh of University College London. "We looked
at the worst case scenario where such care would not be available."
In many Western societies, most older people needing help with daily
tasks like dressing and bathing receive assistance informally from a
spouse or partner or their adult children, the researchers note in
But as life expectancy continues to increase, more adult children
with parents needing care may already be at retirement age
themselves and less able to help. Family dynamics around care for
aging parents may also shift as couples have fewer children to share
To understand how baby boomers think about their family caregiving
options, researchers surveyed 2,135 adults who were 68 or 69 years
old about their expectations about who might care for them in the
More than nine in 10 participants had at least one adult child and
44 percent lived less than five miles from their nearest adult
offspring, the study found.
Almost 70 percent were married and slightly less than half had at
least one functional limitation that made it difficult to complete
About 14 percent had a longstanding illness that had limited their
usual activities since age 64 or younger.
More than 40 percent of participants said they had themselves
provided care for someone frail or with a disability.
Social networks of family and close friends appeared to influence
how people thought about their potential future caregivers.
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Participants lacking social relationships in midlife - for instance,
those who said that between ages 43 and 64 they had no one they
could rely on in a crisis - as well as people living further from
adult children were more likely to expect professional help with
their future care needs.
People with the least amount of contact with family and friends were
27 percent less likely to expect future care from a child and 15
percent more likely to anticipate needing care from a paid
professional, the study found.
The study wasn't designed to prove whether or how different family
and social relationships might influence older adults' expectations
for care in their golden years. It's also possible that expectations
in the UK, where there's a national health system, might be
different than in countries where people have less access to
Preferences at one point in time also may not match what people want
when they do need help, said Jennifer Wolff, a researcher at Johns
Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore who wasn't
involved in the study.
"I am very skeptical that hypothetical preferences or expectations
have any bearing on actual care arrangements that may evolve," Wolff
said by email.
But it still makes sense for people to think about who might care
for them and discuss this with anyone they might rely on for help in
the future, Wolff said by email.
"It is definitely true that most baby boomers have not adequately
planned for the potential eventually of requiring long-term care
from a financial perspective," Wolff said.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2PRCFzL Maturitas, online August 8, 2018.
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