In decades past, parents stretched to pay for their students’ college tuition and expenses for four years, and then the check writing stopped. But today’s lengthened road to adulthood and challenging economic realities are pressuring the Bank of Mom and Dad to stay open much longer. For emerging adults in the 21st century, becoming financially independent, like finding lasting love, solid employment and a permanent separate address, is taking much of their 20s to accomplish.
Popular lore has it that to age successfully, retirees should stay busy (what David Ekerdt calls the “busy ethic,” in an article from The Gerontologist [26:3, 1986]), remaining engaged in active leisure such as sports or hobbies, participating in productive activities like volunteering or even continuing to work. Typically not part of this agenda are caregiving responsibilities.
People of the Baby Boom Generation (1946 to 1964) were born to be wild and their retirement promises to be even wilder when compared to their parents’ generation. Gone are the halcyon days of the so-called gold watch retirement that was ushered in with an office party, followed by a life of full-time leisure and, ironically, never having to set the alarm clock again.
Caregiving for an elderly, frail person is an intimate experience, a loving act—a gem of human kindness. In this country, the greatest numbers of these caregivers are volunteers, usually family members and friends, but for LGBT elders and their caregivers, there is a noticeable twist to the experience.
We’ve chosen to highlight several facets of this experience through the following posts.
We, (those of us older than 50) are now finding out what Bette Davis knew, that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Those of us who are also lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) may have additional challenges including homophobia and heteronormativity, which can send us running back to the very closets we fought so hard to leave, according to Stein and colleagues in a 2010 article in the Journal of Gerontology Social Work.