As the “graying” of the American workforce surges, there will undoubtedly be an increasing demand for workplace services related to aging generations. After all, if: “10,000 Baby Boomers a day will turn 65 – every single day between now and the year 2030,” (Taylor 2014, 6), doesn’t that also mean 10,000 potential new customers reach that age every day?
“The United States is projected to age significantly over this period, with 20 percent of its population age 65 and over by 2030,” said Jennifer Ortman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Projections Branch. “Changes in the age structure of the US population will have implications for health care services and providers, national and local policymakers, and businesses seeking to anticipate the influence that this population may have on their services, family structure and the American landscape.” (US Census Bureau, May 14, 2014 news release)
One interesting business venture capitalizing on this idea is the “Work Reimagined Pledge,” an initiative of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which allows companies to pledge to the following:
“Working with AARP, participating companies have signed a pledge to level the playing field for experienced workers. Work Reimagined is a national effort to help employers solve their current and future staffing challenges and direct job seekers to employers that value and are hiring experienced workers. Employers who sign the Pledge agree that they have:
· Openness to the value of mature workers
· Nondiscriminatory HR policies
· Immediate hiring needs (at the time of Pledge signature)” (“Work Reimagined Pledge,” 2014, American Association of Retired Persons)
In return, the AARP links to jobs posted by these companies and provides free public relations.
Another pioneering program is MIT’s AgeLab, which was founded in 1999 to address the changing needs of the aging population through innovative thinking, technology and programs. AgeLab embraces the evolving demands of older people, seeing an exciting challenge where others see headaches and problems. (AgeLab, referenced June 2014)
Is providing services to meet the needs of companies with older workers an untapped but potentially lucrative business opportunity? Identifying problem behaviors and helping generations communicate more effectively can very possibly make the workplace more productive. Wellness services, such as wellness programs, could be well-received by companies in general, and could be targeted to older workers as one aspect of service. Products designed with the aging worker in mind, such as ergonomic desks, software to make digital reading more comfortable, and impact-absorbing floor mats, will make the workplace more welcoming for workers of all ages. Even specialized training to help workers adopt new technologies more quickly could be targeted towards the older worker while benefiting the entire workforce.
AgeLab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Referenced June 2014. http://agelab.mit.edu/about-agelab)
Taylor, Paul. April 10, 2014. “The NEXT America,” Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/next-america/
“Fueled by Aging Baby Boomers, Nation’s Older Population to Nearly Double, Census Bureau Reports.” News Release, May 14, 2014. US Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/aging_population/cb14-84.html
“The Work Reimagined Pledge.” American Association of Retired Persons. Referenced June, 2014. http://workreimagined.aarp.org/participating-companies
Post written by Kay. This article is an experiment in new ways of writing for this blog – more journalistic, lighter on opinion. Like it? Leave a comment to let us know!
The Henry Chronicles muses on a classic sandwich family dilemma: guilt. Beautifully written, as always.
Originally posted on The Henry Chronicles:
Two weeks ago, a younger friend of mine called to ask my advice about achieving work-life balance. She has a three-year-old, is in the middle of a challenging pregnancy and is less than a year into a new leadership position. How did I do it, she asked.
I didn’t, I told her. I oscillated between roles rather than achieving balance. Like her, I was pregnant when I took a challenging new job — and I, too, had medical complications. My boss approved the normal six week maternity leave. When I came back to work, my infant daughter still cried much of the day and night. (The only thing that seemed to sooth her, during these colicky periods, was a bouncy swaying back and forth reminiscent of low impact aerobics, which I had continued during pregnancy.) I pumped breast milk sitting on the john in the bathroom. But my daughter soon…
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Looking back on the past three years, we made a lot of plans to help us better communicate and attend to one another’s needs and wishes as a Sandwich Family. Honestly, it has taken a lot of effort to put all of these plans in place, but it has been completely worth the trouble. During my dad’s last few days, we did not have to waste time worrying about what he would have wanted or what was going to happen next. Instead, we had the luxury of focusing on saying goodbye to him.
Here are a few of the kinds of plans Sandwich Families (and, let’s be honest, ALL families) should seriously consider making and sharing. I’ll be writing more about each of these in coming weeks, so stay tuned:
- Estate plan: what do you want to happen to all of your stuff when you pass away? The ramifications of NOT having an estate plan (wills and trusts fall into this category) can be extremely serious and vary widely from state to state – and from family to family. If you do nothing else, make a will. Just do it. Your family might be angry with you about some of the decisions you make, but they will be your decisions.
- Living will: this includes your wishes about responding to a medical crisis, whether or not you want health care practitioners to use extraordinary measures to extend your life, and who gets to make these hard decisions on your behalf. This is scary stuff, but it can be so much worse to leave your loved ones wondering what you would have wanted.
- Budgets: are simple to prepare and can be very revealing. Drawing up even a rudimentary budget can provide valuable information to financial planners, attorneys, advocates and family alike. The very process of preparing a budget can show patterns and habits, and even possibly raise an alert if a scam or theft (including identity theft) has occurred.
- Passwords and access to documents: who can get to your accounts and files in an emergency? Are your passwords, accounts and physical documents secure?
- Benefits: are your benefits in order? Benefits documentation includes distribution of earnings from retirement plans and pensions, wishes about allocation of retirement savings and access to veterans benefits. This also includes your plan to pay for health care, whether it is provided by an employer or through a government program.
- Life care wishes: where and how do you want to live? Will you live in a nursing home if needed? Do you want to buy long-term care insurance?
- End-of-life plan: this can be a painful conversation, but so much better to have it than to be left bitterly confused and anxious during a health crisis or the earliest days of loss. Go to http://theconversationproject.org/ for excellent resources on this topic. (We wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.)
- Philanthropy: you won’t see this on many lists out there, but I am a firm believer in clearly stating your wishes related to how you want to support your favorite charities over time. Make a priority list so that your family can help you continue to give to the charities and religious institutions you cherish.
Leave a reply: what plans have you made, and which ones are you putting off for later?
Post written by Kay.
No, not that conversation. THAT conversation – the one about end-of-life wishes. According to The Conversation Project, “60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is ‘extremely important’”, yet “56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes.” To be sure, it is a tough conversation to have.
My dad had the conversation with my mom and each of his kids many times. When he passed away suddenly last month, we all understood so very clearly what decisions he wanted us to make on his behalf. We did not bicker, complain, or feel the need to argue a case – we just signed the paperwork and said our sad goodbyes.
Now that Dad is gone, we are grieving, but we are not left second-guessing our decisions. We honored Dad’s wishes. We loved him and we owed him nothing less than that.
If you have not had this important conversation with your family, it is never too late to start. You can find a conversation starter kit here. And please talk to us! Leave a comment or send an email (kaysandwichfamily at outlook dot com) and let us know how your conversations are coming along.