For an increasing number of Baby Boomer daughters, Mother’s Day is a world removed from breakfast in bed and a homemade card with tiny outlined fingerprints.
Rather, it is a day – like so many others – to focus on their own aging mothers and celebrate in ways more appropriate to the limitations of the elderly.
The second Sunday in May serves as a reminder that elder care issues are an increasingly dominant aspect of today’s work and family dynamics in general, with a somewhat greater impact on women, in particular.
Among the many staggering statistics that detail the costs of and rate at which our population is aging, this one stands out: people over 80 years old are the fastest growing segment of the aging population, and women make up the majority of that over-80 demographic.
Women are the primary caregivers.
Women spend approximately twice as many hours as men on such activities as personal care assistance, bathing, grooming, errands, and a variety of other chores. The fact, however, that women spend more time caregiving does not diminish the wider societal impacts.
The imminent crisis of our aging population significantly impacts men and women alike. Its poignancy, however, is front and center on a day which honors the contributions of moms to their families.
Spotlighting the Elder Care Crisis
And that is why, on this Mother’s Day, the meaning of the occasion would be best served by shining a spotlight on the growing elder care crisis in America today, its increased toll on families, and the implications for the workplace.
For Baby Boomers, helping aging parents navigate their medical issues and their physical and mental limitations present daunting challenges. As Boomers respond to these needs, they are struggling with the emotional complexity of navigating their own aging process.
The compassionate care they are called to demonstrate for their mom and dad is wrapped in a blanket of fear for their own future, and worries about what their remaining decades will be like.
According to data from the Families and Work Institute, nearly half of employed Americans have already reported providing elder care. Boomers will be expected to take a major role in solving the complex healthcare and workplace issues attendant to these demographic realities.
How ironic that the generation that did little to ease work-life integration for parents of young children find themselves needing a flexible workplace to support the crisis-driven aspects of managing elder-care. Resource: Lauren Stiller Rikleen.