Millennials, born sometime between 1981 and 1996, are in the prime of their lives. For many, the responsibilities of their thirties mirror the needs of their twenties‒job-hunting, promotions, matrimony, and possibly child rearing. The “golden years’’ of retirement are seldom on their minds.
Yet, while retirement is merely a distant point on the horizon for them, their parents (baby-boomers) are entering retirement at an ever-increasing rate.
This carries with it an alternative burden: on-going parental care. To hedge against some of the inevitable frustrations and challenges, Millennials and GenZ owe it to themselves to get ahead of these looming issues. Today these younger generations can make their lives considerably easier by preempting many of the challenges their parents will face as they get deeper into retirement and old-age. Twenty and thirty-year olds must lay the groundwork today that introduces support as their parents enter their “golden” years.
If I’ve learned anything about my grandparents’ retirement, it’s the benefit of introducing assistance earlier rather than later. By assistance, I don’t mean hospice, 24-hour help, or the like. Merely, get them comfortable with having other people advise them and do things for them.
Have a flight to catch and need to get to the airport? Let’s call an Uber. Back pain? Try a massage app. House a little dirty? Pick one of a dozen cleaning apps.
My grandfather, a plumber by trade, refused to have other people fix the house, but he started to love Angie’s List once we all started referring to the helpers as his team. Now we no longer fear him getting on a chair to change a light bulb, a seemingly simple task that leaves many seniors in the hospital.
What I mean to draw attention to is the importance of breaking away from the image of unnecessary ultra-independence. Name a king or queen that didn’t have staff. Instead, let’s create an environment today in which certain day-to-day activities can be delegated to others, without involving children and grandchildren.
We should normalize getting help at every opportunity, whether it’s asking for directions, seeing a new type of doctor, etc. From the feedback of our users and their children at GoGoQuincy.com, we have found tech support is an excellent gateway-service that encourages seniors to seek outside-the-family support; it becomes a catalyst for updating a mental paradigm that left many born before 1960 thinking they are perceived as weak, sick, and vulnerable to their friends if they seek even the most benign labor or service from someone outside their family. If Millennials and Generation Z do not lay the foundation today, they will continue on a path that renders them the de facto technician, therapist, and chauffeur for their parents.
No one likes computer problems — even the best of us have contemplated launching an iPad out of a window. Apple’s Genius Bar recognized that by creating the first consumerized help experience, albeit just for the Apple ecosystem. Today, generalized digital assistance is available across all platforms, which is particularly helpful for an older population.
As people age, their relationship with technology changes. Constant advances require continuous software updates, password reminders, and lessons on these topics. Yet, we know the adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Even so, no one is embarrassed to admit they don’t know how to use their computer. Their willingness to admit a gap-in-knowledge ushers in a very effective way to break the ice of “help stubbornness” in older users.
According to AARP, 10,000 people turn 65 every day . As technology continues its path towards an increasingly large part of our lives, its role will continue to introduce anxiety for many seniors — a large group of whom struggle to find Netflix on their newly gifted smart TVs. In fact, most people would rather go to the dentist than learn how to use new technology. Almost 75% of adults 65 and older report needing help to set up their electronic devices .
COVID-19 accelerated the world’s use of technology, introducing a new era of web services. Telehealth, Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Zoom were quickly adopted, but even now the technology is in its infancy. What we see regularly is the social impact seniors have on each other, especially in senior living communities. When one senior finds a way to make their life easier, he shares it with one who is afraid to ask for help, and VOILA! Social learning.
Millennials and GenZ need to emphasize to the aging adults in their lives that technology is not to be feared. It is to be used for self-empowerment, and services like GogoQuincy.com make it so they don’t have to walk through difficult digital issues alone; 34.2 million people in the U.S. provide unpaid care to an adult 50 years or older . The stresses of caring for aging parents and relatives can be overwhelming.
Empowering aging adults to achieve a level of comfort around non-family support, and doing so early, not only leads to a higher long-term quality of life, but reduces the stress on the younger generations. Helping a loved one overcome negative perceptions and connotations associated with receiving outside help has paved the way to empowerment in other key areas of their lives including healthcare, mobility, and more.
If done early, introducing smaller forms of assistance today will pay dividends tomorrow, saving time, decreasing stress, and keeping family time family time. Now is the moment for millennials and Generation Z to introduce their parents and grandparents to services that keep them active and safe.