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  • Yvonne Shek

Gen X will want to age on their own terms



Contrary to popular belief, by my teen and her friends, I am not a boomer. I am Gen X. And when this article came out in March of this year, I shared it with pretty much all of my Gen X friends and family. We talked about the article. We laughed from our guts and teared up, because it resonated so deeply.


Throughout the last three months, my Gen X cohort and I watched in horror as our long-term care (LTC) homes were ravaged by COVID-19. Other cracks in the system showed up because of COVID. Our LTC homes are not in good shape. 


That got me thinking -- and I would venture to guess that for my fellow Gen X'ers: We have to find our way not to end up in LTC. We are not going gently into that good night. No way, not us. 


If you are not Gen X, you have to understand a few things about us:

  1. We may look like we are law abiding citizens. Pffft. Sure we are. We’re the parents who introduced our kids to Ferris Bueller. And we will not be upset if they took a Ferris Day in their senior year of high school.

  2. We may be quiet, but we are courageous, adventurous, and fierce. We’re the ET generation. We’d quietly harbour aliens in our closets without telling our parents. There is no way our kids could talk us into “the old folks home” unless we had a love interest already there.

  3. We are resourceful and inventive. If we don’t like something, we will reinvent it. Heck, our generation practically invented the internet. No, not Al Gore -- us. 

So back to long-term care. What are we going to do about this situation? We are deeply concerned about how the system has treated our parents’ generation - many of them are in LTC at this time. As for us, I am hearing things like:

  • (The most common) Let’s do the tiny homes thing and move up north together. Us, three families. We can age as old friends or siblings.

  • Let’s just travel and have a small home base. When we can’t travel anymore, then we will get back to home base.

  • Let’s just RV it till we drop.

  • Building a granny suite for myself, in the backyard. Let the kid takeover the house. Which kid has been the kindest to us?

  • One friend of ours even has this idea (this was pre-COVID, mind you): “I’ve done the calculations. My wife and I can be on a cruise, permanently. It’s about the same price as long-term care. And way more fun.”

What’s the point of all this? I can think of a few notable applications:

  • If you are in the LTC business, you need to understand the next wave. Yes, clean up your act. That goes for private as well as public LTC options. And then, listen and truly deliver to their needs and expectations.

  • If you are a residential developer, you also need to take note and prepare for this wave of potential customers who may want to downsize in a different way. Listen to them. They have their own ideas of how they want to grow old.

  • If you are in the cruise industry, I was going to recommend taking a hard look at this potential generation as a future LTC opportunity. But now, Gen X is mad at you for your polluting ways, lack of hygiene, and uncertainties around ports of embarkation/disembarkation during unusual circumstances.

  • Lastly, if you are a child of Gen X parents, then may God help you in the next 10 years and beyond.

#genx #ageing #rethink #ltc

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