I read disturbing news last week. Very disturbing news. Birth rates in this nation have dropped to their lowest level in over 25 years. While we were once the envy of the world, maintaining a “replacement perfect” rate of 2.1 births per woman in this country, we have in recent years slipped to an unimpressive 1.8. And it is expected to drop more before that trend reverses.
Experts blame this phenomenon on the bad economy, and people delaying the starting of families due to their continuing financial uncertainty. This will impact many of us on a number of levels.
Employers may not be able to fill certain mission critical positions in the future. There could be critical shortages in service level workers. And most importantly, there will be a gaggle of old farts who will need assistance on a multitude of levels.
And I will be one of them.
Doing the math quickly in my head, I figure I will be in the most need of these services about the time these children who are not to be would have been entering the workforce with the sole goal of caring for me. The actual pinpointing of my ultimate loss of independence is a bit difficult. For best estimates I look at the genetic makeup of my family.
At the back end of the baby boom generation, I am currently 51 years old. My father is 92, still drives, and owns 2 businesses in Farmington, NM. His father, who died at the age of 98, remarried at the age of 96. And my wife says I still act like a 10 year old. So far, so good. It looks like I could have a chance to miss this critical workers shortage, as long as new parents return to cranking out future caretakers within the next 15 years or so.
However, my mother's side is not quite as rosy. My maternal grandparents lived to their 90’s, but my mother, 88, is afflicted with Alzheimer’s and has been confined to a nursing home for a couple years. While there is no prior history of the disease in our family, there is a chance I carry the same genetic makeup that has allowed my mother to be afflicted (there is tremendous evidence that Alzheimer’s is as much environment based as hereditary, but much remains to be learned).
So, there is a chance that that I will live to be 100, but won’t know anyone’s name after 75.
That scenario puts me squarely in need of advanced care right at the time these missing kids would have been set to do just that.
This could be serious. Most of us have been so wrapped up in the concerns of today that we have not recognized the potential future problems that today’s economic strife will create. I can’t blame those childless people in the world. After all, my wife and I never had kids, so that would be a tad hypocritical. The message here, if there even is one, is this: If you are of child bearing age, save yourselves. Have children today. Love them. Nurture them. Raise them right. Someday they will choose your severely understaffed nursing home.
And if you could do me a favor, would you have them check on me when they are visiting you? I suspect my diaper will need changing by then……