Top 5 Characteristics of the Baby Boomer Generation

In home health, we are tasked with caring for people who have recently (or not so recently) lost their independence. Each generation brings with it a set of values, ideas and morals that define their cultural identity. Understanding your patients’ outlook is important to providing effective treatment. According to the AARP , the first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, initiating a cultural shift in home health patients. The previous generation, known as the Silent Generation (people born between 1925 – 1945), trusted in authority. Time worked on their side throughout their lives. They were born after World War I, were too young to participate in World War II, and too old by the time the Vietnam War came around. Financially, they graduated at a time when the economy was booming, bought homes at record low interest rates and saved for retirement from a young age. Playing by the rules paid off for them.

According to “The Silent Generation, “The Lucky Few” at Forbes.com, “…this is the only living generation that could half-believe, along with Woody Allen, that ’80 percent of life is just showing up,’”

Caring for the Silent Generation should have been easy because of their trust in authority and willingness to follow instructions compared to what’s coming with the Baby Boomers, a group that believes in creating their own rules. Here are the top 5 defining characteristics of the Baby Boomer Generation and how to curve your treatment for a successful home health approach:

Hard Working and Goal Oriented 

Baby Boomers don’t shy away from a challenge. From the civil rights movement, to the women’s movement, to landing on the moon; this generation ushered in some of the most important achievements of our time, in almost every genre. When treating the baby boomer patient, set realistic goals and re-evaluate often to keep the motivation up.

Competitive

Baby Boomers were born into an unusual spike in birth rates, leading to their name. This meant that there was more competition for what they wanted throughout their lives, compared to the Silent Generation. This generation is defined by their need to win. You can play on these emotions when discussing their treatment plans. Share positive statistics of people in similar situations to give your patient's something to strive for. This generation will generally not be complacent about reaching goals others have reached.

Nonconformists

Having lived through and causing many great social changes, Baby Boomers believe in challenging authority. Don’t expect your Baby Boomer patient to blindly listen and accept your information and instructions like your previous patients have before. When caring for people in this generation, be prepared for questions and make sure you can explain why you are giving the instructions you’re giving.

Independent

This generation is strongly defined by their independence. Losing any level of that will be difficult for the Baby Boomer patient. This attitude can bring with it a tendency to under report conditions. When treating the Baby Boomer patient, make sure you pay special attention to non-verbal cues and outside factors. If there’s a caregiver or spouse, involve them in the evaluation and care process. You can also keep the motivation up by reminding them of the end result of achieving their health goals or by accepting their conditions, like focusing on the independence and safety brought by the use of a walker.

Want Quality

Baby boomers, consumption and social change: the bridging generation?” a paper form the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Keele University, discusses how Baby Boomers are the “in between” generation that bridges the frugality and low expectations of the Silent Generation and the consumerism of Generation X. Baby Boomers want quality and are prepared to pay a high price for it. Thus caring for a Baby Boomer requires a deep focus on value perception. If you provide quality care, co-pays or high insurance rates will be OK. However, if they perceive their care to be sub-par, they will be prepared to challenge it or can threaten to not pay for it. This can be in the form of complaints to supervisors at the home health agency or as far as complaining to the insurance company or governing body.

It's important to keep these differences in mind as you'll be adjusting to higher percentages of Baby Boomers vs people from the Silent Generation.