If you are a baby boomer lucky enough to have one or both of your parents alive and involved in your life, there is a good chance that you are deeply involved in their lives, too – particularly in dealing with the infirmities of old age.
In Baez’s case, both her daughter and her son-in-law are doctors, and her daughter can devote substantial time each day to looking after her mother. Most of us do not have the training or the resources to provide comprehensive care to aging family members. Who will assist the growing number of elderly Americans that need care?
Nursing homes offer a variety of skilled labor, but they are very expensive. Many residents end up relying on Medicaid after they exhaust their own financial resources. These costs are driving Medicaid expenses to unsustainable levels. Long-term care insurance is a deeply flawed response to this problem because any such insurance that is realistically priced will be too expensive for most people who might need it. Insurance cannot magically make a large and likely expense get cheaper.
Elderly people who are placed in nursing homes may also find that their privacy is curtailed and that they have less opportunity to spend time with family. Many would prefer to remain in their own homes if they could get enough help to keep them safe and comfortable. Good home health aides, however, can be hard to find and even harder to keep. There are agencies that provide such personnel, but the agencies’ overhead and profit margin add significantly to cost, while turnover and the limited pool of qualified help can affect service quality. As with most services, there are good and bad providers.