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When The Time Comes

Caregivers-in-Waiting: Boomers Struggle to Map Out Plans for Aging Parents - Interview with Paula Span, author of When the Time Comes

Five families helped Paula Span illuminate the modern struggles of caring for aging parents in her new book."

Q. What’s your most important advice overall?

A. Remember, aging is a tough passage of life. It’s distressing and hard to coordinate and expensive. We plan for education, marriage and kids, but we don’t plan for being caregivers to our parents, and we should. But people step up and do it and survive it. They get satisfaction from helping to care for the people who cared for them. There are more programs than you think, and you need someone to help you find them.

Q. What kinds of programs?

A. There are some federally funded programs to bring services to what are called NORCs, or naturally occurring retirement communities. For instance, in Philadelphia and New York City a van with a nurse will come to a building that has a large population of elderly people and provide health services on the spot. Similarly, intentional communities, driven by consumer involvement, bring the services of a retirement community to seniors in their homes. Beacon Hill Village in Boston is an example. Both are examples of trying to let seniors age in place.

Robin Gerber is the author of Barbie and Ruth, the biography of Ruth Handler, the founder of Mattel Toys and creator of Barbie.

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