Why Aging Issues Should Matter to Gen X and Millennials

No one wants to think about the aging stage; it's not as desirable as getting a job promotion, working on a Ph.D. or starting a company. Even I have a colorless perspective of it. Where's the fun in chronic illness, being sedentary, and needing help to go to the bathroom? That's the default when thinking about getting older. But next week, the White House has big hopes to alter how Americans age.

It started back in 1961 when the first Senate committee was formed to address the aging issues. It helped launch Medicare. Back then, there were discussions about how older people would change over the years. They were right. They have. No longer do folks 65+ want to saunter through an inexpressive life in a nursing home. Next week's White House Committee on Aging meets again but this time, with little funding from Congress. Not good timing for cutbacks since the population will quickly magnify along with a shipload of problems. But for now, let's set aside the needs of the older people and look at the reasons why the Millennials and Gen Xers should join in the aging dialog.

One topic brief at the conference is retirement security. Heads-up Gen Xers. Since you're turning 50 this year, you'll want to pay close attention. AARP polled voters (aged 35 to 69) in New York state to understand how prepared you are financially for the future. The results reveal that this generation is more anxious about retirement than the pre-retiree Boomers. However, most voters worry if they can afford to retire at all due to little savings. The survey reflects New York only. However, these same retirement issues affect each state, not just New York. For example people throughout the U.S.:

  • Feel anxious about a comfortable retirement and wonder if they can retire at all.

  • Do not have access to retirement saving plans at work, and many do not contribute to any retirement savings account.
  • Have little expectations of Social Security. However, the boomers have higher hopes for it.
  • Have significant student loan debt that sets barriers to retirement savings.
  • Want to relocate to another state that has fewer taxes and more benefits for retirees.
  • The White House Committee works in the Gen X and the Millennials favor to strengthen Social Security, to expand retirement savings options, and to protect hard-earned savings. The two generations can rally together and promote changes like:

    • Remove the cap on taxable earnings for Social Security for the 5 percent who earn over $118,000 a year and adjust contributions to match other workers' payments.

  • Vote to raise the Social Security tax rate from 6.2 percent of earnings to 7.2 percent.
  • Increase the basic minimum benefit so that a person who paid into the system for 30 plus years can retire and not be poor.
  • Increase Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to reflect better inflation coverage.
  • The other topic brief is the long-term care support and services. It delivers the support many older adults require due to physical limitations and the services that handle assistance with bathing, dressing, and other essential daily living activities. Today, a wider share of millennials step into the caregiving role. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP report that millennials, ages 18 to 34, now make up nearly a quarter of them.

    The Caregiving study (2015), found that most family caregivers spend, on average, more than 24 hours a week giving care. And the more hours you put in, the higher the stress and the more money you spend on another's care. The family member typically has a full-time job on top of the caregiving responsibilities. More importantly, the person has trouble finding affordable services to help with delivered meals, transportation, or in-home health services within the local community.

    In 2016, the president wants to budget $50 million for caregiver supports that address critical help to older adults. The monies will target respite and transportation assistance. If you're a younger aged caregiver, support issues that promote your well-being and financial solvency. Enhance the chances of getting more help by asking:

  • How will I pay for the services? Does the care recipient have access to Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, or long-term care insurance? What personal resources are available?
  • What types of care can I access to help us? The most common are home care, adult day care, nursing home, and a residential care facility.
  • Gen X and Millennials, you have an opportunity to create a successful retirement, but it's up to you. There are government programs and private entities who have your back. Are you saving money each month for the later years? Does your employer contribute to your retirement program now?

    Caregiving is an important role and one that many younger adults fulfill, but you also need to care for yourself too. What steps do you take to maintain good health? Is caregiving affecting your work productivity? Do you know who to talk with if it does?

    The retirement challenges are difficult to tackle but know there are professionals across the U.S. working hard to find solutions. Join them by watching the live streaming event at https://www.whitehouse.gov/live. Or follow the discussion and ask questions to the White House on Twitter and Facebook using hashtag #WHCOA. I'll connect with you there!