Susan Carpenter:  “I have been interested in the question of who, i.e. manpower, is going to physically take care of 79 million baby boomers when they become infirm. Will we open our gates to the 3rd world so that helpers can pour in? Certainly the next generation is going to be so busy working at jobs that will fund the baby boomers’ social security that they will not be changing Depends, cooking meals for the boomers etc. The only answer to this question, i.e. physical care not the $$$ to pay for it which is another problem, is from some futurist who said that by 2025 there will be a federal law that stating that children will by law be responsible for their parents. What do you think?”

Well, if today’s kids don’t learn to vote, we by-then seniors might indeed get such a law passed. But your scenario may be too dire. In 25 years there are an awful lot of jobs that won’t need doing. Remember how many people used to be employed as 411 operators? (And the incredible Mike Nichols/Elaine May skit on the subject? “Sir, In-for-MAY-shun is a free service. In-for-MAY-shun would not STEAL your DIE-yum.”)

As the demand for senior-care workers rises, the free market will likely adjust. Not to mention all the labor saving devices for seniors themselves. E.g., this new pet dog you have probably read about from SONY. No need to feed it, walk it, bathe it, take it to the vet — already you’re way ahead of today’s seniors’ pets. And by 2025 it will likely be a great comfort to its owner and able to perform such rudimentary tasks as calling for help if you’ve fallen and can’t get up . . . fetching your cane so you can get up . . . smelling the gas if you’ve left it on accidentally. And quite a few other elder-care chores.

There is no substitute for the human touch. I’ll grant you that.

But it may just be that by 2025, though we will be living longer and more of us will be old, the length of time any of us needs help will be shorter, not longer. (I grant that the reverse may be true, but I’m an optimist.) At 95, we may be doing quite nicely on our own, most of the time; touching each other; and then, blessedly, keeling over on the shuffleboard court real quick, with our SONY pet programmed to lead the paramedics to the DO NOT RESUSCITATE clause of our living wills.

 

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