The Author's Story
Throughout my career, I have focused my energies and attention on understanding and addressing the needs, wants and challenges of the Baby Boom generation for a variety of national and international organizations. For the past 15 years, I have homed in on elder care and end of life issues.
That experience combined with four specific events drove me to write this book:
- Over the last ten years, I have been interviewing hundreds of Baby Boomers to determine the perceptions, attitudes and mindset that this unique generation brings to the various decisions at the end of life. One clear message was that they do not want their kids to suffer through the same frustrations, arguments and unpleasant surprises that they themselves experienced with their parents.
- In 2005, the Terri Schiavo case captured the attention (and heartstrings) of the world, especially the tug of war between Terri’s husband and her parents over what she wanted done at the end of her life. The train wreck that went on for 15 years could have been avoided if a roadmap for decision-making had been established before Terri’s collapse. Establishing a dialogue within the family before a crisis hits is a fundamental principle behind the Other Talk concept.
Concurrently, over the last four years, I have experienced, through the rapidly declining health of my own parents, the escalating frustrations and financial crises that lack of communication can create.
Dealing with their physical deterioration with Alzheimer’s’ stealing away Mom’s ability to speak and to control her anger and MS conjuring up in Dad’s mind a variety of dark conspiracies and eerie hallucinations was excruciating.
But certainly the most challenging was the role reversal that I found myself in . . . becoming my parents’ parent . . . with no planning, no expertise, inadequate resources and, most significantly, no direction and no “buy-in” from my parents.
It brought me to the same conclusion as all those Boomers that I’ve interviewed over the last decade:
I’ll never put my kids through what just happened to me!
For the Baby Boomers, there is an additional set of unique external factors that will inject further incentive to embrace the Other Talk concept. It’s the Perfect Storm that has been brewing in geriatric care in recent years and it’s scheduled to hit the Boomers just as they reach 65.
The consequences for their families are that they are going to need a real sense of urgency to plan and prepare for a whole new set of challenges when their parents enter their last chapter.
- More: 65+ population will grow 60% between now and 2025
- Longer: Today’s 65 year old will live for another 18.5 years on average
- Fewer: Supply of primary care and geriatric doctors and nurses is declining
Boomers and their kids need to start preparing. They should have the Other Talk now, then keep on talking.