Page 40 - BusinessWest April 28, 2021
P. 40

While Brennan — a 70-year-old geriatrician and palliative-care physician — says people being able to live longer is in itself a success story, it has also become a challenge, for today, and especially tomorrow.
Which brings us back to those oldest Boom- ers, those born just after World War II, who turn 75 this year. That’s the age when, statistically, people begin to see their needs for healthcare increase,
“I don’t believe this generation, which I am part of, will readily tolerate limited access to the best care.”
said Brennan, adding that, as one might logically assume, when a large number of people hit that threshold all at once, the system will be taxed — in all kinds of ways.
“As one might imagine, it’s going to impact vir- tually every sector and specialty, with the possible exceptions of OB and pediatrics,” she explained. “We’re going to see increasing numbers of older people; not all those folks are going to be frail and complicated, but there will be an increasing num- ber of people with multiple medical problems.
“The numbers and the complexity will rise,” she went on. “And it will impact every area of health- care, with probably the biggest impact being in home care and nursing-home care because, per- sonally, I don’t believe this generation, which I am part of, will readily tolerate limited access to the best care that’s going to allow them to stay in their
homes and communities as long as possible.” Mary Flahive-Dickson, chief operating officer at East Longmeadow-based Golden Years Home
Care, agreed. She said the milestone age being reached by the oldest of Baby Boomers provides an opportunity to look hard at what’s in store for the healthcare system and ask the question: is it fully prepared for the challenges to come? And, if not, what needs to be done so it might be better prepared?
In many ways, Flahive-Dickson said, the COVID-19 pandemic has actually provided a preview of sorts for what’s coming as this large generation ages, with regard to everything from telehealth to the way the overall healthcare system was tested by sheer volume of cases and even vac- cination efforts, to the manner in which the need for home-care services is growing.
During the pandemic, this need was fueled by growing fears of nursing homes and other senior- living facilities. Many of those fears still persist, but for Baby Boomers, by and large, the greater issue is simply wanting to remain independent — and in the home — as long as possible.
Eric Aasheim, a certified senior advisor and owner of Oasis Senior Living of Western Mas- sachusetts, agreed. Aasheim, who assists seniors and family members through the complex process of transitioning from home to senior-living com- munities across this region, said the entire long- term-care sector will be tested by the aging of this generation.
“What I see, and what I worry about, is that the long-term-care system — and that includes in- home care, nursing homes, and assisted living — is just not ready for the sheer volume of patients and residents that they’re going to have,” he told Busi-
Dr. Maura Brennan says the healthcare system is struggling to meet demand for direct- care workers, and the situation might get worse.
nessWest. “And even though these individuals living longer and their resources are being depleted, there are so few places that have any kind of programs for low-income seniors. Unless something dramatically changes in terms of the number of assisted-living facilities that can serve low-income residents, there won’t be needed options for seniors.”
        America's Choice in Home Care®
Visiting Angels provides essential senior homecare, allowing your loved one to remain where they are the most their own home.
• Shopping
• Light Housekeeping
• Meal Preparation
• Friendly Companionship • Flexible Hourly Care
• Respite Care for Families
Each Visiting Angels agency is independently owned and operated.
®2021 Visiting Angels is a registered trademark of Living Assistance Services, Inc.
• Bathing Assistance
• Dressing Assistance
• Grooming
• Assistance with Walking • Medication Reminders
• Errands
40 APRIL 28, 2021
Meanwhile, besides sheer size and that sense of independence and not wanting to rely on oth- ers, the Baby Boom generation boasts some other characteristics as well, including what could be described as
denial when it
comes to get-
Continued on page 42

   38   39   40   41   42