Guest Column: As baby boomers become ‘senior boomers,’ time to rethink eldercare

By Pastor Randall Hargate, C.A.P.S. — C.L.T.C.
Crossroads Christian Fellowship

2011 is the year that the first of the baby boomers become “senior boomers.” With the aging of this demographic comes the reality that with age comes declining health.

What we took for granted in our younger years can be a challenge, or even impossible, as we age. The one experiencing a decline in health is not the only one affected. In fact, the ones providing the care are often challenged as much as the one receiving the care.

When our elders’ health takes a serious turn for the worse, institutional care, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities, can become necessary. However, many times with proper planning, nursing homes can be avoided.

With the costs of nursing homes exceeding $70,000 per year, it is obvious how important alternatives such as a team of supportive family members and community services (such as adult daycare) become. A spouse, children, grandchildren and friends are the ones who generally provide eldercare. This comes with a substantial time commitment, and needs to be organized in a way that shares the duties between all available family members.

When Social Security began in 1935, there were 40 workers paying taxes for every retiree. This made for a tax base that was sufficient to provide benefits for Americans as they retire. Today, this has deteriorated to be approximately a 3.5:1 worker to retiree ratio. Combine this sobering statistic with the addition of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Disability Social Security benefits and a host of other unfunded promises, and the complicated reality unfolds.

Going forward, our society will be forced to face changes in our way of dealing with eldercare. Phrases such as Aging in Place, Family Support Teams, Assistive Technology, Medicaid Planning and Managed Care are just a few of the issues families should familiarize themselves with.

This article is the first of a series that will help to inform and encourage families whose aging members need to be cared for. To think that nursing homes will be an automatic solution for anyone who cannot find the time to participate in providing care for their aging family member is wishful thinking.

Nursing homes becoming a default solution to every eldercare scenario does not reflect the Christian ethic, nor is it feasible considering the financial condition of our country.

The following is a list of issues that future articles will address:

1. How to establish a family support team;

2. Community resources that are available to assist you in providing eldercare;

3. Alternatives to nursing homes;

4. How to qualify for state and federal assistance;

5. How adult day care or other third parties can help keep your loved one out of a nursing home; and

6. Many additional issues related to eldercare.

Our intention is to help you develop a plan before a crisis occurs. Equally, we hope to offer helpful ideas if you are in the midst of an eldercare crisis. Any questions you would like to see addressed in future articles can be forwarded to my e-mail address at

Pastor Randall Hargate, C.A.P.S. — C.L.T.C., is pastor of Crossroads Christian Fellowship in Rockford and founder of an adult daycare called Crossroads Adult Day Services. He is also author of the book The First Commandment With Promise, a Christian guide to eldercare planning.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2011, issue

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