To begin with, Baby Boomers are a group of people that span 20 years in age, from 46-64. This means that they are getting older, and might have parents that need caring or spouses that require help. The caregivers that we focused on were those that either fell into this because their family situation required it, or used caregiving as a part-time job now that they were wrapping up their careers. After interviewing a number of caregivers, we noted many traits that they seemed to share, as well as information such as their frustrations, worries, and concerns.
Caregivers of the Baby Boomer generation are genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of their patients, and are dedicated to whoever they are helping. During our research, it came up a lot that the baby boomer generation is an altruistic one, and this seemed to prove very true as all of our interviewees had past volunteer experience before becoming caregivers. A trusting personality is an essential quality of these caregivers, as they are asked to do a lot and they have to be careful not to offend or demean their patients throughout the day. This can sometimes be difficult, since sometimes patients can really give them a hard time. As one woman, Gwen, put it, “you’ve got to learn how to appease them, because you’re both set in your own ways.” But their patient, upbeat attitude keeps them going, in addition to being able to adapt to the person they’re caring for.
The caregivers we talked to were all very modest, downplaying their importance and happy with the gratitude they got. This surprised us, as we thought they might feel more burdened than they seemed to be. But they all seemed to love what they did and were content with the personal satisfaction they got from doing this.
Another thing that came as a surprise to us was that none of the women we interviewed had any professional experience that would have trained them to be care givers. Nancy said that all her experience came from being a mother, and another caregiver, Sandra, said that aside from some instructional packets (she is caring for her husband with a back injury), she relied learning quickly and being a good communicator to make things run smoothly. When shadowing Dianne, it seemed like she must have had some sort of training, the way she adjusted the wheelchair of her handicapped husband, or described all the equipment they used.
One worry that many baby boomer care givers seem to share though, is that they will soon need to start thinking about caring for themselves. As they age, they will be less and less able to take care of their patients, so they need to both find ways to continue aiding the patients, while accounting for any help they will begin to need. Financially, too, this is something that concerns our subculture quite a bit.