"My Back Pages" was written by Bob Dylan and included on his 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan. The song has been covered by artists as diverse as the Ramones, the Nice, Steve Earle, Eric Johnson, and the Hollies. The Byrds' version, released in 1967 proved to be the band's last Top 40 hit in the U.S.
Many believe that the lyrics show that Dylan had become disillusioned with the 1960s protest movement and that he intended to abandon that style of songwriting. The song is known for its repeated refrain:
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
During the 30th Anniversary Tribute Concert to Dylan at Madison Square Garden in 1992, "My Back Pages" was performed by an all-star lineup including Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Dylan himself, and George Harrison, all singing one verse in that order. The performance featured vocals from these six musicians, along with guitar solos by Clapton and Young, which you can see at the YouTube link below.
As incredible as the performance was and no matter how catchy the refrain is (which I ended up singing and whistling around the house all day when I wrote this, much to Rachel's dismay), the rest of us tend to age in the more predictable order below…
Ah, but I was so much younger then
I'm older than that now
As a matter of fact, United States demographic trends show that in 2024, our country will hit a demographic milestone. Next year, our baby boomer population will have 4.4 million people, or approximately 12,000 people per day, reach age 65 according to statistics from the US Census Bureau’s population projections. This is creating new and unique challenges for our rapidly aging society.
One such challenge is that many people are regularly serving as unpaid caregivers for their parents or grandparents. As you can see in our chart below just under 15% of our adult population, or approximately 37.1 million Americans spend at least one hour a day as an unpaid eldercare provider. Simple math tells us that this is the financial equivalent of several million workers missing from the US labor force.
This can create stress on both the individual caregiver and their families. Even if they feel called to provide care for their loved ones, it can be physically and emotionally draining. It also means that they are not present with their own family for important moments or events.
From an economic standpoint, it is actually reducing GDP growth. The hours spent working as a volunteer do not show up in any government statistics. It also means that paid caregivers are not providing the service, and therefore, it slows our national economic growth and reduces our national earned income.
Over the last 35 years, I have watched clients deal with these situations for both sick and aging parents or spouses. The decision to become an unpaid caregiver can be driven by multiple factors. The first is the desire to care for the family member you love and keep them at home as long as possible. This is a beautiful and caring gesture. However, caregiver burnout is a real thing and I have watched many clients who had the best of intentions to care for their spouse or parent end up getting exhausted and/or injured trying to care for their loved one.
Some people are driven to this decision due to the cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility or memory care unit. As you can see from the following chart which includes data through 2021, the most recent year available, the cost of these facilities has risen steadily and significantly over the last decade.
Source: A Place For Mom
I know from recent conversations with clients that the cost of these facilities in the northeast Ohio area is currently running anywhere from $5000-$7500 per month depending on the level of care needed, and ancillary services such as medication management. This can add up to $60,000-$90,000 per year, which can deplete a family's hard-earned savings very quickly and leave the well spouse or surviving spouse with depleted resources and in a dangerous financial position.
You can see that many factors contribute to choosing to be an unpaid caregiver to a family member or loved one. These can include positive emotional inputs such as devotion, love, and a desire to serve. It can also be driven by guilt or fear of financial loss. It is important to understand the emotional and financial drivers in the decision making process so that you can make the best choice for your loved one and your family.
As we all continue to move toward Our Back Pages, we see the opposite of what Bob Dylan wrote in his classic song:
Ah, but we were so much younger then
We’re older than that now
We are all moving down the road of aging, life, and health, and it is important to recognize what this means from a family and financial standpoint. I thought this was an important reminder to share for those of you who find yourself facing or in the midst of these challenges. If you need to discuss the impact on you, your family, or your finances, please reach out to the CFPs of Impel Wealth Management. We are here to help as we continue “Moving Life Forward”.
© 2023 Jesse Hurst
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