Back in the Middle Ages, war, famine and disease made living past the age of 40 quite a difficult task. Over the centuries, modern medical science along with a more peaceful culture has greatly increased life expectancy in Western civilization. The current average in the United States hovers around 78 years. As this number continues to go up, senior citizens are beginning to re-evaluate their plans for retirement.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that there will be over half a million people over the age of 100 living in the United States by 2050. In response, Merrill Lynch recently conducted a survey of well-off Americans with assets of over $250,000 to understand their views about reaching the age of 100. Though over 50 percent had a positive view of this fact, three-quarters said they would approach their retirement differently if they had a guarantee of living that long.
If a person requiring home health care retires at the age of 65 and lives to be 100, he or she will need assisted living for 35 years. This is a very long (and expensive) time for such a service, and the added costs will need to be addressed by family members or a longer working career.
As the baby boomer generation moves into the latter years of their lives, there are many mixed emotions about the reality of higher life expectancy. U.S. News reported that the recent recession is sparking frustration amongst the elderly community - a survey by SunAmerica Financial Group claimed that "43 percent of retirees expressed anger at the impact on their retirement plans."
In addition to frustration, baby boomers are also afraid of the challenges that await the elderly later in life. Declining health can be depressing to people of any age, but the increasing likelihood of heart disease and many other ailments is a scary prospect. The thought of limited time with family members and friends also contributes to this fear.
Luckily, some of these emotions can be appeased with the implementation of a private care attendant. These cost-effective workers often form personal bonds with the elderly and essentially act as life coaches when the going gets tough. They can assist in correspondence and visits to family, and also alleviate fears of a medical emergency with their constant presence.