This is an interesting combination topic – don’t you think? Perhaps you might be thinking that I am taking this whole “theme” thing a bit too far. Putting together the “Happy Small Business Week” (which I learned about from my Google page on Monday) and Elder Law Month. . . . Isn’t this a bit of a stretch?!
Why no, not at all! In fact many folks in the second half of life are shunning retirement in favor of . . . . “risky startups.” Read the January 7, 2014 Bloomberg article about this here. It’s no surprise to learn that job opportunities for folks over 55 are “limited” but it was surprising for me to learn that the number of people aged 55-64 has been increasing, with a full 23.4% of them starting their own businesses in 2012. What is prompting people to do this? Many have discovered that the retirement benefits that many of our parents enjoyed are simply not on the table anymore. Couple that with a lifelong yearning to work for yourself, and there you have the boomer startup! The Small Business Administration is well aware of this trend and has targeted free resources available for this cohort.
Last month I was pleased to present the CLE program at the monthly meeting of the Elder Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. My friend and colleague Rick Mishkin gave me a very kind introduction and revealed publicly my secret desire to be a talk show host . . . .! He was generous enough to update the title of the solo/small firm disability and death planning presentation I have given a few times now to “The Death You Need to Plan for Should Be Your Own.” As it was the elder law section, which is an interdisciplinary group, there were a few professional fiduciaries who attended the program and a couple of them (one of them a finance person and the other a professional guardian) noted that the materials I shared were helpful to them as sole proprietors who wanted to have some succession or disaster planning in place. A bar staffer told me the materials would be available on the bar website. I am happy to share these resources with other solo professionals who are so inclined.
Among the small business startups by those underemployed boomers or boomers who just aren’t ready to be retired can be found more than a few businesses targeted at the elder care services field. There are businesses that are founded on services that most family members that traditionally were largely provided by family members. With our modern-American and far-flung families, many elders have come by necessity to rely on service providers for many services and support. In fact, the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging has a handy website that can help locate local providers of services including information on Alzheimer’s Disease, health insurance, transportation, housing options, legal assistance and long-term care. Many of those service providers are baby boomers who found that the service their parent(s) needed was not really available, and so many unique forms of assistance for elders were born from this necessity.
The boomers have a vested interest in how these business developments they are involved in turn out. They are the “silver tsunami,” which is necessitating a reexamination of resource allocation in services that will be made available to the biggest ever cohort of elders in our country (and many other nations worldwide) has seen. There are many dimensions of what has been called “the 2030 problem” of meeting the challenges to public policy placed on caregivers and public finances; and to focus only on economic challenges (like issues around raising tax rates while tending to economic growth of service costs at the expense of other forms of social investment along with tending to the well-being of future generations of workers) may be misleading in its simplicity (or not). This topic is not at all an easy one to identify and discuss, let alone come up with what might be “solutions.”
Another excellent online resource is the American Society on Aging. On their site is a tab called “business and aging.” Turns out there are a few discussions of the topic outlined above – how long should a boomer work; will there be enough caregivers to go around when we need them; and what about long-term care insurance issues . . . ? My favorite item on this site is a video by Katy Fike, Ph.D., a member of the ASA’s Board of Directors entitled “Ten Innovations that Could Change the Way We Age.” Spoiler alert: one of them is the Google self-driving car! I think we Boomers have a lot to look forward to in our old age.
©Barbara Cashman 2014 www.DenverElderLaw.org