According to the latest statistics on drug spending from the Organization for Economic Development*, Americans pay much more for prescription medications than people in all other developed countries. The average American pays nearly $1,100 annually, compared with $742 in Germany, $619 in Australia, $509 in Sweden and $478 in Britain. And keep in mind: these figures only reflect insured payments. For the more than 40 million American adults who lack health insurance, bloated drug prices can be catastrophic.
But these averages are often misleading in the sense that younger people don’t usually need as many prescriptions as seniors. In addition, with 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, the number of Americans on reduced fixed incomes baring the burden of high drug prices and insurance deductibles is skyrocketing. Many have to choose between quality food and medicine. Either way longevity is severely reduced.
The drug industry says discounted programs exist for such people, but that just underlines the insanity of the system—that we need special programs for people who have to pay list prices for a product.
Reverse mortgages can save lives. If you know a retiree who is having trouble making ends meet and still living in their own home, a program to provide enough income to pay for basic needs and medication can be a life saver and guarantee that they age in place comfortably.
First let me let you know that this article is not what you think. So read on.
You can be a more innovative problem solver by doing things the other way around. Instead of doing things in the ordinary, logical, straightforward way, you get a new perspective and generate new thoughts by doing the opposite of what would commonly be expected. I recently came across three great examples of this, and I wanted to share them with you.
Reverse Brainstorming is a technique in which you state your problem in reverse. For instance, you change a positive statement into a negative one, you try to define what something is not, and so forth.
Basically, it’s a mixture of the well-known brainstorming technique mixed with the technique of changing your perspective so you can look at the problem or situation from a totally different point of view.
Cyriel Kortleven has a great example of this on his blog. The example he uses is: networking. Instead of asking yourself how you can triple your networking in a month so that you can make more contacts, which could potentially result in more sales, you could ask yourself something like the following:
How am I able to make sure that no one ever contacts me?
One way no one could contact you is if they don’t have any way to reach you due to the fact they don’t have your contact information. And if you never carry business cards with you, people wouldn’t have your contact information. So, how can you ensure that no one ever contacts you? By never carrying your business cards with you.
Cyriel then suggests that you reverse things once again. Therefore, "Never carry any business cards with you" would turn out to be, "Always carry plenty of business cards with you". Then, you just magnify that:
* I’m going to provide a business card to everyone I come across.
* I’m going to have a t-shirt made with all of my contact information on it and wear it to my next networking occasion.
* Every time that I meet someone at a networking occasion I’m going to have my picture taken with that person and send it to them via email after the event with a note saying it was excellent meeting them (of course, in the picture you’re wearing the t-shirt will all your contact information on it).
Although graffiti–performed well–can be an art form, it’s frequently an act of vandalism. A clean wall or surface is defaced with ugly scribbles, profanity written in spray paint, illegal advertisements, and so forth.
Reverse graffiti is the opposite of this. A dirty wall covered in soot and dirt is beautified by cleaning it in such a manner that shapes–often trees, flowers, birds, and so on– are created on the wall.
Reverse graffiti is often a call on government to clean up dirty, neglected public spaces.
The Inversion Technique
The inversion technique is much like reverse brainstorming. Here’s an example of the technique from Josh Kaufman’s book, "The First 20 Hours":
"By studying the opposite of what you want, you can identify important elements that aren’t immediately obvious. Take white-water kayaking. What would I need to know if I wanted to be able to kayak in a large, fast-moving, rock-strewn river?
Here’s the inversion: What would it look like if everything went wrong?
* I’d flip upside down underwater, and not be able to get back up.
* I’d flood my kayak, causing it to sink or swamp, resulting in a total loss of the kayak.
* I’d hit my head on a rock.
* I’d lose my paddle, eliminating my maneuverability.
* I’d eject from my kayak, get stuck in a hydraulic (a point in the river where the river flows back on itself, creating a loop like a washing machine) and not be able to get out.
If I managed to do all of these things at once in the middle of a raging river, I’d probably die – the worst-case scenario. This depressing line of thought is useful because it points to a few white-water kayaking skills that are probably very important:
* Learning to roll the kayak right side up if it flips, without ejecting.
* Learning how to prevent swamping the kayak if ejecting is necessary.
* Learning how to avoid losing my paddle in rough water.
* Learning and using safety precautions when rafting around large rocks.
* Scouting the river before the run to avoid dangerous river features.
* This mental simulation also gives me a shopping list: I’d need to invest in a flotation vest, helmet, and other safety gear.
Now … I have a concrete list of sub-skills to practice and actions to take to ensure that I actually have fun, keep my gear, and survive the trip."
So don’t you think that it's time for you to reverse your thinking? Don’t you think it's time you helped your older clients and family members to think in reverse? Start at the end; think of what you don’t want; flip it on it’s head . . .these are all examples of reverse thinking.
What if a senior’s children or other family members have no idea where to turn for help when their elder loved one is suddenly in need?
Language Matters: Senior Concierge Services
For seniors, a steadfast desire to maintain independence as long as possible is completely understandable; we all want autonomy over our lives.
While women as a group are generally more amenable to help once they recognize they have a need, it’s important for LOs, other senior service professionals, children of elderly parents, concerned friends, etc., to understand the implicit threat to independence that saying “yes” to help represents. It opens a doorway to acknowledging one’s mortality, and this creates fear.
One way to ameliorate resistance is simply semantic. Instead of telling your client, mother, father, in-law, etc. that you’d like to bring in a caregiver or a geriatric care manager, mention a “senior concierge”. This term conjures images of a polished professional at a fine hotel, there to make their stay more pleasant.
In fact, this is what a senior concierge does, in a senior’s home environment rather than at a hotel. And the field is growing. A senior concierge may provide services similar to what home care agencies once called a “home health aide” or “companion”. A concierge offers non-medical assistance such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, transportation to appointments, etc., that may be just what someone like the elder with a broken wrist needs now.
The best way to find a senior concierge service in your area is to search this phrase along with your state, county or city. Here are several senior concierge services a quick search revealed.
Note: We are not endorsing any of these providers
Senior Concierge Services (Cincinnati, OH)
Elder Concierge Services (Denver, CO)
Independent Living Concierge (Los Angeles, CA)
Senior Concierge Providers (South Florida)
When A Senior Needs Home Health Care
Of course, some people will probably require more direct personal care than a senior concierge provides. This is when a home health agency is likely to be the best next step.
There is a huge range of agencies available, from national service providers to local services based in your community. A home care agency will screen, hire, bond/insure, pay the salary, and replace the employee if necessary. Alternatively, you can hire someone directly via a digital bulletin board such as Craig’s List, or from word-of-mouth referral, but you’ll be responsible for all aspects of hiring, employing, and potentially replacing the caregiver.
A family can also search via the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) Agency Locator, a comprehensive database that will pull up information germane to someone’s specific needs and indicate whether the provider is state licensed, Medicare certified, an NAHC member, etc. FYI: In most cases, ongoing care that doesn’t involve skilled nursing (i.e., “custodial care”) is not covered by Medicare. This is one of the areas in which a reverse mortgage could prove very helpful.
A Shoulder to Cry On
What if the family is committed to managing their loved one’s care on their own, and could use some support from people who understand what they’re going through?
Family Caregiver Alliance is one excellent, virtual support network: the first community-based nonprofit organization to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. As a public voice for caregivers, FCA “shines light on the challenges caregivers face daily and champions their cause through education, services, and advocacy.”
A family can also visit the Health and Human Services website for their city or county, which will list a category such as Aging and Adult Services and may specifically offer caregiver support. At the very least, they should be able to make a knowledgeable referral to a caregiver support group within your community. Your local senior center is also a good point of contact to find a caregiver support group.
One other good clearing-house for information is Helping Hands. In our connected age, there is no reason for anyone to feel isolated and burdened by not knowing how to get help for their elder loved one.
Significant reports show that in the next few decades, the senior population will reach extraordinary heights. However, many people already know that 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day is nothing new.
Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) reports a new revelation; by 2035 the senior population aged 65 and older will signify one third of U.S homeowners.
JCHS conducts a yearly study that takes a snapshot of the housing market in the U.S.
During the second quarter of 2018, the analysts mentioned many ways the senior population will largely influence the market for many decades to come.
Presently, Seniors 65-and-older, equate to about one fourth of households in the U.S, a significant increase in 10 years of analysis. With an increase of 7 million senior households during that period; analysts further expect to see this growth to grow as one in three senior households by 2035.
“The aging of the U.S. population has also boosted the number of older households because the baby-boom generation is so much larger than the preceding generation,” the JCHS recognized.
The growth of senior homeownership since 1987 appears to be unrelenting. This trend is proving to be a challenge for millennials who are trying to buy homes and who are starting families much later in life.
According to the findings from JCHS, younger generations are moving and buying less and the senior generations are staying in their homes instead of downsizing. This shift puts the U.S on a path to experience different housing demands, challenges, and stress over the next two decades.
As millennials are waiting to be more secure and set before purchasing a home or starting a family, this move may prove to be a set back for them. Only time will tell if the millennials can keep up as the retiring baby boomer generation continues rise.
Marc has 36 years in financial services and 6 years in teaching.
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