Page 48 - BusinessWest April 28, 2021
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50 Village Hill Road, Suite 1, Northampton, MA 01060 (413) 584-0701;
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Continued from page 43
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65; those products have to be bought much sooner. Meanwhile, not enough members of this generation (and it’s not exactly unique in this regard) have their ducks in a row when it comes to needed documents — and needed preparation for poor health that often comes on suddenly and without much warning.
“What I try to focus on with the Boomers are the things they can do now, before that eventuality,” he explained. “This includes having discussions with your family about what your preferences are in terms of long-term care, gathering the documents together, getting power of attorney and a healthcare proxy, all those things. That’s what I hammer away with them — get that stuff done now, while you’re still healthy and you have the energy and the mental capacity to deal with it, so your family doesn’t have to handle it in crisis mode a few years down the line.”
Unfortunately, he said, many don’t heed this advice.
“They all nod when I talk to them in these pre- sentations, but are they going home and getting that stuff together? My thought would be, probably not,” he went on. “Because most of the calls I get are from people who are in crisis mode.”
Bankowski Chunyk is another who wishes that more Boomers would heed some advice. Or at least listen to family members telling them they can’t hear as well as they used to, and should do something about it.
She told BusinessWest that the hearing indus-
try talked a lot about the Baby Boom generation years (make that decades) ago, and how its size and advancing age would comprise a great opportunity for audiologists, one they should be prepared to seize.
Bankowski Chunyk did prepare, but she said the wave hasn’t been nearly as big as all those experts predicted it would be, largely because of ... well, human nature, as well as lingering perceptions about hearing aids and what they say about those who wear
Crystal Cote-Stosz
Tracy Carrol
Emily Uguccioni
Christine Rachmaciej (Interim)
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Thom Wright
1 Shallow Brook Dr., Northampton, MA 01060 (413) 582-1825;
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Thom Wright
20 Bayon Dr., South Hadley, MA 01075
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Maureen O’Toole
    but also to regulatory bodies, such as Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
“They have had to relax a lot of rules,” she went on. “As the Medicare population is continuing to grow, Medicare benefits haven’t caught up to that, and this is a huge problem. There are fewer than
a dozen states that even offer non-medical home- care services to be paid for by a plan, and that plan is a singular plan, and that’s Medicare Advantage. In Western Mass., no one has a Medicare Advantage plan that offers the benefits of non-medical support, so it’s either out of pocket, or you have to qualify for one of the few programs that cover this.”
As for home-care workers, she said a number of demographic trends (Boomers generally had smaller families than the generations that preceded them) and other issues point toward individuals needing someone outside the family to care for them — and real challenges when it comes to having a steady sup- ply of workers to provide that care.
That’s another lesson from COVID, she said, refer- ring to the law of supply and demand, which was cer- tainly exacerbated by a pandemic during which many had apprehensions about working in others’ homes.
“Fewer and fewer family members are capable
of being a caregiver, either because there are fewer families, period, or ... because family members might be on a different coast,” she explained. “Just because you grew up in Springfield doesn’t mean you stay in Springfield.”
Aasheim agreed, noting that these demographic trends are just some of the challenges facing the Baby Boom generation. Another is their own lack of preparedness for what is to come — financially and otherwise.
He said that only one individual in 10 has long- term-care insurance, and this is a matter to be addressed — just not when someone is 75 or even
She said data shows that, between 1989 and 2019,
the average age of an individual being fitted for a hearing aid for the first time fell from 66 to 65.
“I’m not sure a lot of progress was made getting people to address their hearing,” she said with some sar- casm in her voice, adding that, while there are certainly more people of that age than there were several years ago, sheer volume is not creating the immense opportu- nity that was predicted back in the ’80s and ’90s.
Whether it will materialize eventually or not,
she doesn’t know — but she does know the Boom- ers are perhaps more vain when it comes to hearing aids than the generations that preceded them, so her industry has some work to do to change those perceptions.
Bottom Line
Perceptions are not the only thing that will have to change if the Baby Boomers, and those in the health- care system who will care for them, will adequately manage this sizable demographic shift.
Brennan is right when she warns about this chal- lenge becoming an ‘us versus them’ scenario, but she’s also right (and her mother was right) when she said that no gets through life alive.
As this generation ages, it will present enormous challenges to a healthcare sector that in many ways seems unprepared for what’s coming. That’s evi- denced by the number of comments that began with the words ‘if things don’t change’ — comments refer- ring to everything from workforce to accommoda- tions for low-income seniors.
Only time will tell if things will, indeed, change. What is known is that the Boomers, as they have at every other phase of their life, will alter the landscape as they reach 75 — and beyond. And in all kinds of ways. u
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