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  • Writer's pictureJames Lee

The Business of Aging - An Insider's Blog For Those Caring for Older Adults

"Kids, my wishes are to live and die in a nursing home when I get older."

If you have been instructed as such, then this blog probably won't be of much use to you. If, however, you are one of the 41.8 million U.S. Adults (as of May 2020 according to a report by AARP) who provided unpaid care services for someone 50 years old or greater, then you have likely thought one or more of these following things:

  • How do I pay for some care support? What are my options?

  • What's the difference between a nursing home and assisted living?

  • Does Medicare pay for any of this?

  • How will I get mom [i.e. older adult] to ever agree to moving to a care home?

  • Assisted Living costs what?!

  • What does a "Power of Attorney" mean and allow me to do?

  • Is this dementia or just the aging process?

There are hundreds of other questions that could be intermittently be coming to mind in between your job, taking care of your own kids, taking care of parents or grandparents, and... oh now the COVID 19 Pandemic.

The Adult (Non-Paid) Caregiver

According to the same 2020 article by AARP, the typical caregiver is: 49.4 years of age, female, and cares for 1.3 adults for a duration of 4.5 years. 53% of caregivers felt they did not have a choice while 46% felt they did have a choice.

19% of surveyed caregivers reported that they experience very high levels of financial strain by providing care for an older adult. The greatest impact (28% of respondents) is their own stopped savings. 61% of caregivers also work while caregiving of an average of 35.7 hours a week. The economic value of unpaid family caregivers in 2019 was $470 Billion annually (source: Association of Health Care Journalists). Let me show that in unabbreviated terms: $470,000,000,000.00 a year that YOU provide every year in the U.S. According to Grand View Research, the U.S. long term care market in the same year (2019) was an estimated $443 Billion. So a few takeaways for me:

  1. If the unpaid family caregivers created an industry, you would have earned more than the entire long term care industry.

  2. The combined economic value of care for seniors will likely reach $1 Trillion by 2021

That's a lot of money (or equivalent) just in the CARE of seniors. This doesn't account a wider scope of products and services for non-care related things like socialization, travel, dating, and well - just about everything else. It can sound and feel pretty overwhelming, but one thing is for certain: the population of older adults in the U.S. will continue grow, which means more and more businesses will enter the space of the "senior" demographic.

There's a lot of great things that will come with it: innovation, competition, and better options for both care and non-care related products and services.

There's a lot of bad things that will come with it: confusion of options, wide array of quality, and businesses serving seniors who don't really understand them.

I hope that my blog can help sort through some of what's about to come and any questions or needs you have today.

An Insider's Perspective on the Business of Aging

I have spent 12 amazing years in the senior living industry, and I plan on being in the service of older adults in some way for my entire career and beyond. I started in this profession as a caregiver in a senior living community in Austin, Texas. I have been an activity director, sales director, executive director (running the community) and various corporate leadership roles. Here's my LinkedIn profile if you want to see the whole history of my work.

I have seen the best of our industry, and I have seen all the ways that we can improve - for you. I believe profoundly in a world in which older adults feel more connected with their families, engaged in their communities, and have dignified choices to help them live a fulfilled and purposeful life whether they wish to stay at home, live in residential care homes, traditional senior living options, or something that hasn't even been invented yet. I will spend my entire career in pursuit of this ideal. Despite the tough press around the senior care industry in 2020 - exacerbated by Covid-19 - I want to tell you that there are thousands and thousands of people who share my professional convictions.

In his widely popular book, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell asserts that it takes a person 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. I have spent over 30,000 proud hours in the service of seniors, and I'm just getting started. I work now as a consultant helping organizations of all types to improve the options available to older adults to live their best lives. This freedom of affiliation (not being employed directly by a single employer) gives me the ability to do something I have long desired - speak directly to seniors and their loved ones - to give you:

  • No bullshit advice and perspective

  • Answer your questions about senior living without the pressure of buying anything

  • Resources from reputable businesses, associations, and publications you may not know

  • Encouragement through a community of people just like you

  • HOPE

Who Should Read This Blog

As this blog grows and its members and audience builds over time, I will work to stay attuned to your questions and needs. I will tag such blogs with "For Families" or "For Seniors." I expect that a good percentage of my readers will also be fellow professionals in the senior living field, so you may get an inside perspective on the relevant and timely conversations happening in our industry. Here are some of the planned blogs I have for families and seniors.

  • What is a Nursing Home, Really?

  • Senior Living Terminology

  • The Complete Financial Guide to Home Care Options

  • The Complete Financial Guide to Senior Living Options

  • How to Tour an Assisted Living Community Like an Insider

  • Death and Dying Process for Older Adults

  • Family Dynamics (Conflicts) Related to Their Parents' Care

  • How to Research Assisted Living Communities Without Getting Lost in Sales

  • Dementia Myths

  • Sexual Intimacy for Seniors - Yep, We Have to Talk About It

  • Tech & Seniors

  • Protecting Your Parents' Money From Scammers

  • Virtual Health Care

  • Social Isolation is More Harmful Than Cigarettes

  • Dating in Your Golden Years

I expect that the subjects for these future blogs will naturally develop as I listen to you and read your comments. You're not alone, and this IS a tough process to go through if you feel alone. I have had some very tough days and periods of work, but I have NEVER hated a day of work. I feel incredibly blessed to be on this side of the equation - helping to shape the world of products, services, and solutions for older adults.

I hope that as you see "behind the curtains" of the senior living profession, you will feel supported, hopeful, and - dare I say it - excited. There's so much more to aging than the connotation of "decline." There's beauty, and there's an innovative world coming for the next wave of older adults.

You are an incredibly capable, resilient, and loving segment of the population creating nearly half a trillion dollars worth of unpaid care support every year. This blog is my small part to give some value back to you.

Let's do this, y'all.

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1 Comment

Feb 18, 2021

Excellent! If you need a contributor, let me know! BTW ... now you’ve got me wanting to count the number of hours I have in Senior Services! I’ll get back to you on that one!

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