It is the time of year when we do honor to moms and dads (as well as grads). Lots of young people will be graduating and “moving on”. Yet, one of the challenges of our times is that many will be “moving back” instead of moving on. A recent PEW Foundation think tank, research report has dubbed the current generation of 25-34 year olds, the “boomerang generation”. The economic challenges that they face have caused a majority to find safety and comfort back home. The report was based on a survey that PEW conducted in December of 2011 of over 2,000 young adults across the USA. Thirty percent of that age cohort now live in what the study called “multi-generational” homes and, what may come as a surprise, “large majorities say they are satisfied with their living arrangements (78%) and upbeat about their future finances (77%).
At the same time, what also is happening is a growing concern about the economics of aging. A recent N.Y. Times article (May 6, 2012) on a type of dementia called frontotemporal dementia, again pointed out the growing challenge that it is going to cost our generation a lot of money to care for the rapid rise in chronic illness. And, we may not be able to count on our kids to help afford our own situations, as we have helped our parents. The lack of real debate in any level of government on the future of Social Security and Medicare only adds to the slowly growing reality that our boomer aging may very well be, in many ways, unaffordable. So, we need to ask them who will pay?
I raise this issue here only because it is so real and so many of us will be faced with these realities. We take for granted our health and mobility until that moment when we cannot…and then what?
The stresses and strains on families dealing with these issues are enormous. It appears that these will only continue to grow and I do not know if our generation is prepared. I would invite your comments on this issue.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min