A baby boomer from Boston wrote to a friend who she thought it was important to connect with during the holiday season. She realizes that as baby boomers age and lose their parents, staying in contact with friends becomes increasingly important.
This sentiment could also be uttered by the baby boomer in Columbus, Ohio, who sits in vigil next to her dying father, hoping that there will be more tomorrows.
In today’s world of terrorist attacks, gun violence, and political discourse, an emerging problem of mass proportion seems to be getting largely ignored.
It is a topic that does not grab news headlines. In fact this issue receives little attention from most people relative to the actual magnitude of the problem. But this is a problem that will certainly start getting your attention once you are confronted with it yourself.
This subject has to do with issues that so many baby boomers are or soon will be facing concerning their elderly parents.
This dilemma is rapidly becoming a crisis for baby boomers as they struggle to make sense of the aging of their parents and what the potential loss of parents will mean for their lives.
Sometimes it happens suddenly when a seemingly healthy parent has a massive heart attack or stroke that they don’t survive. But often, it is a more gradual progression.
First you may notice that your parents need more help and can no longer function completely on their own.
The next stage is when the more serious caregiving begins, and this runs the gamut from the baby boomer taking their parent to doctor appointments to providing 24/7 care for a parent or dealing with the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital.
But it is the third phase that is most heartbreaking, when the palliative or Hospice care physician tells you that that your loved one has very little time to live.
This is the world of many baby boomers across America.
This is the lifestyle of many baby boomers, whose own lives are placed in limbo, because no planning can be done when you don’t have an exact timetable for your parent’s end of life.
Yet as difficult as it may be, you have to hope you will remain in limbo for as long as possible if it means that your parent will still be alive that much longer.
A baby boomer in Oregon might have summarized it best. He noted that when you look at it from the outside, you tend to use words and phrases such as “balance,” “being practical,” and “you need to go on with your life.”
But when it is your parent at the hospice center, you realize the answers are not so clear.
Suddenly simply applying logic and staying level-headed does not work so well — or even seem right anymore.
This Oregon man has experience, for he can recite the definition of sun-downer syndrome, and he can tell you about changing his father’s diaper.
He can share with you the feeling of what it is like when you know your dad will have little time left, and people want to know if you have selected a funeral home.
The psychologist might say that “time heals all wounds”, and that there is a process to the healing.
The religious person might say, “It will be all right,” for your dying parent will soon “be at peace” or that he is “going to a better place.” The employer might say, “When are you coming back to work?”
The baby boomer losing the parent might say, “This can't really be happening.”
But it is happening. There are many baby boomers whose lives are on hold.
Baby boomers are just trying to do the right thing when it comes to the end of life stage for their elderly parents.
There is no shortage of advice that Baby Boomers receive in these situations. Everyone seems to have an answer; the only problem is that baby boomers are often not asking the bystander any questions.
Many believe that this a private matter, and that each baby boomer has to make up their own mind about how they will manage this difficult process.
So a baby boomer will sit next to her father’s bed and she will try to offer him a smile —but in her heart, there is an overwhelming fear, panic, and tears. She will be told to remember her father as he was, but she rejects the past tense of the conversation.
Like many baby boomer men and women across America who are facing the elderly parent at their end of life stage, reality is just not on the menu.
Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns “Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation.” He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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