We’ve been watching that programme about Boomers on the tv. I’m a Baby Boomer. When I was wee my comics were full of visions of a future in which we flew round in space ships, wore silver suits and had pills for breakfast. Up there above us were new worlds and different cultures, ripe for exploration just like in DR Who, Star Trek and Lost in Space. Those programmes fuelled our imaginations.
We watched rockets with dogs, chimps and humans fire off into the night sky and saw grainy pictures of people bouncing on the moon. Nothing was impossible, no barrier was unsurmountable, no feat of endeavour was unachievable.
That spirit of adventure and possibilities has stayed with us Boomers. We challenged gender roles, class barriers, racism and even gravity and now we’re challenging the ageing process. As my generation heads towards our later golden years, we’re still smashing through barriers and pushing the limits. Rockstars are still rocking into their 70s. Runners still running into their 90s and beyond. Punks are still cerise and spiky haired, no blue rinse and pinnie for us, we’re in short skirts, skinny jeans and high heels.
It’s a fabulous energy to live with, full of hope and derring do, so different to our parents’ lives in many ways.
I know I’m not alone in wondering how on earth care services are going to cope with a whole load of white haired Boomers who are used to having choices, used to being independent. We expect to be able to go outside and see our friends. We expect to be physically and socially active, to listen to our choice in music, to watch what we want, to eat what we choose when we choose, to do things that some folk might think are a bit risky. It’s not just the numbers of us that needs some thought, we’re different in every which way. And we’re just the tip of the iceberg, generations after us will have their own expectations and foibles too. The whole care system is going to have to keep on changing and responding ad infinitum.
The challenge is massive but exhilarating. If services begin to cope with us boomers then they will be on a journey of change that will help generations to come. Self Directed Support will, when it’s had time to bed in, help give us choice and control of our later years, helping to match the diversity of people. Social media and digital technology will help us stay in touch with our friends and keep us entertained. We’ll expect to be up to date with news and digital developments. We’ll want to tune in and switch on.
Some of the bits of the complicated jigsaw are in pace already – thought nowhere near bedded in. Person centred approaches will help us be seen as unique individuals with aspirations and hopes regardless of our age. Self directed support will help us be consumers, clients and shapers of decisions that affect our lives, help us keep in control. Assets based working will help folk see we have lots to give, rich networks and skills and capabilities, we are not helps needy old folk. It’s going to talk time to get all the bits in place and working, and massive culture change. I can see it already in the Day Centres and my Mum’s Care Home. Activity Coordinators are now becoming the norm not an added luxury and my Mum is doing things now she’d never done before. But I worry about how we will tackle the inequalities between those of us who have a lifetime of being the ‘haves’ and those who have had a lifetime of being the ‘have nots’. We’ll be fighting injustice and inequality to the end I think.
Change rarely happens smoothly and us Boomers may well have to do a bit of complaining and protesting to get change to happen. We’re up for that! We’ve marched, boycotted, gone on strike and protested in many many ways to tell the world that things need to change, I can’t imagine we’ll stop yet – there’s life in the old Boomers yet!
So watch out as Bay Boomers tackle the (almost) final frontier – old age. As ever we’ll be going boldly.