June 26th, 2010 at 10:21 pm
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Well, Don’t Look at Me

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

I continue to be amused by recurring reports that Baby Boomers have done less by way of civic engagement than our parents’ generation. According to one report, Reinventing Aging, boomers now have an opportunity to re-define aging as many of us have more time on our hands.

Some boomers have been caregivers for more than 10 years while juggling full-time jobs and more. Just ask anyone who is a member of America’s caregiving community. 

One of my long-time family friends just reached the end of her in-home carer’s journey at the age of 90+ after having cared for her disabled sibling for decades. If anyone has earned the right to back off from civic engagements, she has, if she so chooses. She’s exhausted.

Increasingly, as more of my friends come to the end of their care journeys after having lost a spouse and/or their parents, my support has been unwavering. “Make time for yourself now. You’ve outdone yourself in caring for your loved one. Enjoy the first days of the rest of your life.”

Those words have become my latest show of solidarity for my fellow caregivers who have long been in the trenches of unpaid family care just as I have.

Call to Volunteer Ignores Largely Invisible Corps of Volunteers is a reminder that unpaid family caregivers are very much engaged in fulfilling a social need. Unpaid family caregivers are  just as easily overlooked socially. As suggested by the author of Top 8 Tips for Working With Baby Boomer Volunteers, “Boomers are time stretched.” That may be the understatement of the year.

I applaud the writer of “Top 8 Tips…Volunteers” for recommending that others who may wish to target-recruit us as volunteers, first respect our schedules. That is a great place to begin. When it comes to Baby Boomers’ availability, it is best to not assume that we are mini-me’s of our parents’ generation.

Volunteering has been a socially-imposed expectation for our parents’ generation. For some boomers, including me, volunteering is entirely an option.

I have exercised my option as an unpaid family caregiver. I have no regrets. Neither will I entertain thoughts of social guilt.

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