Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Aging Population Presents New Challenges;
"A Boomer Turns 60 every 7 seconds"

Jeff Weis is the co-owner and general manager of "Home Instead Senior Care," an organization which aims to provide comfortable, human-centered, in-home assisted living care to seniors and those with special needs.

He spoke to the Rotary Club of Lancaster, Wednesday, about what he calls "the boomer tsunami" and its implications.

"A tsunami begins with an earthquake," he said, "and the earthquake for the boomer tsunami was the end of World War II."

"Since 1990, the U.S. population has tripled, but the number of adults age 65+ has increased 11-fold," he said. "These folks represent 14% of the population today."

They're called the "baby boomers," which Weis defined as "the 78 million of us born between 1946 and 1964" and the cost of their care, including their promised social security benefits, will exert a tremendous strain on the national economy.

"A boomer turns 60 every 7 seconds," Weis remarked, and "By 2020, the number of seniors will be equal to the number of 25-30 year olds."

This presents a number of challenges. Many seniors have not saved for retirement and will therefore be totally dependent on the government and on their families for support, weis argued.

"Senior fraud is also a very scary problem that is becoming much more prevalent."

The aging population will also exert tremendous strain on the healthcare system, Weis said, and the healthcare system will return the favor with extraordinary costs.

He said he thinks it's important for consumers to be educated and for hospitals to be more transparent about their billing structures. He quoted former Bush economic advisor Alan Hubbard as having said, "It's absolutely indefensible that consumers don't have access to hospital prices."

By way of solution, Weis proposes rewarding individuals for entering the Geriatric field, increasing the availability of assisted living situations, supporting innovations in technology that help us keep track of our loved ones, and celebrating and appreciating senior citizens.