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10 anticipated psychosocial needs of baby boomers

December 21, 2011
by by Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD
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Consider these changes as LTC adapts to the next generation

Establish policies around sexual interactions, have your psychiatrists ready to evaluate for capacity to consent, be prepared to discuss new relationships with family members—and get your multi-purpose room ready, because baby boomers are more likely than our current group of residents to expect to exercise their sexual freedom. Rehab referrals for this activity of daily living and requests for erectile dysfunction medication will become more common. Staff training will help your team handle residents’ sexual concerns in a helpful and professional manner.

8. Fashion and décor

Floral back snap dresses with petal collars and sweatshirts with cute puppy prints will need to make way for more fashion-forward clothing designs that enhance the esteem of residents. And expect conservative room décor to be “tweaked” by younger residents. To make everyone happy, create a way for these adjustments to occur without destroying property, such as a system for easily changing artwork without putting holes in the walls.  For example, consider adding molding close to the ceiling so that pictures can be hung with hooks or wires and no commitment. Or offer a variety of coordinated privacy curtains.

"Who are these people, and why do they seem so demanding?"

9. Scheduling daily priorities

Personal choice is important to boomer residents, making them more likely to demand flexible scheduling options than our current population. Imagine how empowered and cooperative residents would be if they had the opportunity to outline their schedules. “I’d like my wake-up call at 7 a.m., my breakfast between 7:30 and 8 a.m., and my rehab at 9 a.m.” If we can work the nursing home schedule around the needs of the residents, rather than the residents around the needs of the nursing home, long-term care will become more livable.

10. Emotional support

Ageism among a group of residents that grew up with the rock and roll anthem lyric, “I hope I die before I get old,” is likely to lead to challenges in self-concept for this generation. Support services, whether through individual psychotherapy or groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or other illness-related organizations, will be expected by baby boomers, who are more aware of the mind-body connection and more comfortable sharing their concerns than our current residents.

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD, is an author, speaker and consultant on psychological issues in long-term care. For more information, visit Dr. Barbera's website, www.mybetternursinghome.com.




In my own work here in Australia in the ageing field - I often tell the story of a friend of mine who worked in a nursing home some 30 years ago - at afternoon tea everyone got a white tea with two sugars. I ask people to imagine baby boomers like me (early 50s) at morning tea in the future long term care facility I may live in - the conversation with my peers might go something like this:

" I would like a chai latte. I'll have a decaf latte. Could I have a long black? Have you got peppermint tea? I'd like a long machiatto and can you make sure it is hot. etc ete ...

A great article thanks Eleanor - I just don't think the aged care field in Australia is anywhere near ready for this new generation of residents.



Dr Ralph Hampson
Melbourne, Australia

Thanks, Dr. Hampson, for the image of that tea party! I'm certain having a coffee bar with wifi in the nursing home lobby would appeal to many potential boomers. (And how much worse could it be than the vending machines in terms of sugar and caffeine intake?)

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD

Yes, they are demanding, yes they are the "ME" generation. And because of their demands the healthcare system is in more danger that ever of going bankcrupt. A dose of rality is needed for them to understand that it is a nursing home, not the Hilton hotel.

I'm insulted to think that this is how you see baby boomers. Most boomers have reached an age where they volunteer more than almost any other age, besides helping with elderly parents and still working. We are not the "ME" generation. We are also healthier than many other segments of our society. Nursing homes don't mean "waiting-for-death" homes. They should expect dignity and respect in any environment, whether it's a nursing home or their daughters home. I surely hope you don't work in the health care field, you really have no idea what we are all about.