posted by Lisa Dillman
I had the pleasure of traveling this week to St. Louis to visit with a colleague that I met a few years ago in the Elder Law industry. He is an Elder Lawyer who practices in St. Charles County Missouri and provides the same kinds of services to his clients as I do mine. I made the 5 hour trip in order to observe the way he ran his office and I was also lucky enough to be able to attend an educational seminar that he was giving to the public. Even though the seminar was a little bit later than I wanted – as I was anxious to get on the road to get back to my family – I am so glad I stayed.
Admittedly, I walked into the workshop thinking I knew exactly what he was going to say and there was nothing he was going to tell me that I already didn’t know. In fact, I have been giving these same kind of educational seminars for years so there was going to be no surprise here, right? I found myself focusing on his information and becoming more and more interested as he spoke. One of the statistics that he delivered absolutely dumbfounded me – and it shouldn’t have. It was such a simple statistic that I knew in the reaches of my mind but I didn’t let seep into my everyday consciousness.
He told his audience that currently 12 million people in the United State utilize long term care, either in their home, an assisted living facility, independent living facility or skilled nursing facility. He also said in the next 20 years there will be 78 million baby boomers turning 65. He indicated that 72 percent of those baby boomers will require long term care. I did some quick math and concluded that 50 million people over the course of the next 25 to 30 years will need long term care. I compared that to the current 12 million and I was astonished. It occurred to me that long term care is going to be the focus of our society over the next generation. It also occurred to me that I don’t think we, as a society, are ready. I don’t think we are ready financially, physically, emotionally.
On my long ride home I tried to imagine what the coming decades were going to be like, not only in my industry of Elder Law, but in my own family and in my own house hold. Will my husband need care? Will I need care? How much more care will my parents eventually need? I vowed over the course of my trip to be diligent in my efforts to become the best caregiver that I could possibly be because it is a forgone conclusion that my skills will come to bear in this area over the next 30 years. I have heard often that it is the measure of a society how it cares for its elderly. I hope that we are up to the challenge that we will be faced with in the next 30 years, I know that I will be trying my hardest.