A Call to Us Baby Boomers

Dr. Whitehouse is one of us; he is a Baby Boomer. In The Myth of Alzheimer’s he issues a call to action for us Baby Boomers.1 As an extra incentive, he states that studies have shown that engaging in politics and keeping apprised of world events may be protective against cognitive loss.

He recommends that we encourage our local politicians to make life-span aging a priority issue. To argue for a more equitable distribution between funding for the “cure” and for “care.’ Currently most of the funding goes for the search for a cure, and in Dr. Whitehouse’s informed opinion, a cure is a long way off if one is ever found. Federal and state labor policies should help expand the pool of front-line caregivers. Youth apprenticeship programs can be created in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in which high school students can experience hands-on learning in the workplace in conjunction with classroom instruction and to have mentored on-the-job learning in an eldercare setting. These programs can provide up-and-coming workers with the skills and competencies they will need to care for the growing number of elders in our society and provide them with the knowledge, insight, and real-world experience they will need to take care of us in the future.

He also recommends that we e-mail the leaders of our local Alzheimer’s disease chapters and express the belief that money raised for AD should be invested in care and prevention, and not just in the race for a cure that might never be forthcoming. Investing in caregiving creates a compassionate infrastructure in our communities that can last for generations. Investing in prevention allows more of us living longer with clearer minds. Children are included to ensure that they are provided a good start in their development.

We need to think about the communities of the future that will emerge to care for our elderly. Creative living arrangements such as co-ops for the elderly, inter-generational living spaces, environmentally sound assisted-living facilities that promote cognitive stimulation and inclusion in community need serious consideration. The following is a direct quote, “I am not sure we want or can afford too much institutional care for the frail elderly. If we can break down the barriers between those with dementing conditions and the healthy, and the young and other old, perhaps we can create living arrangements where people help each other across the cognitive and ageing divides. Cooperative group arrangements supported by architectural and environmental design may allow groups of mutually halping and helpful people to survive and thrive through cooperation arrangements. We are entering a challenging era as a human species. But humans are the most adaptable beings on the planet and I hope that we can rise to the challenges of the twenty-first century.2

We Baby Boomers can considered ourselves “called.”

1Whitehouse, P.J., & George, D. (2008). The Myth of Alzheimer’s. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

2Pages 277-278.

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