Sick To Death > Chapter 2 > More Patients, Fewer Caregivers

Sick To Death book cover This extract from the online edition of Sick to Death and Not Going to Take It Anymore! is used with permission.

More Patients, Fewer Caregivers

The daunting numbers of people with serious disability and fatal chronic illness and the shortage of family and paid caregivers should make greater availability of skilled caregivers a priority over the coming decade. Since large numbers of disabled elderly in 2030 will first experience the dysfunctions of care when they serve as family caregivers, they might then be motivated to political action to rebuild the care system to be more reliable. Compared to their parents, baby boomers tend to be more aware of health issues (Kennedy 1998) and far more aggressive in demanding the services that meet needs (Bartlett 1999). The aging of this group presents not only daunting challenges but also powerful leverage for activism. As the Institute for the Future (2000) points out, "Baby Boomers have transformed many institutions and aspects of society along their life cycle - including the workplace, financial institutions, and government. As Baby Boomers interact with the health-care system, their expectations and preferences will also transform these institutions as the health-care industry adapts to accommodate Baby Boomers' demands and numbers." Certainly the very sick living out the end of their lives have little direct political force. But their family members might have more, and the baby boomer generation has every reason to seek better solutions, since it will be the next to use them.