NAPO Research on Baby Boomers Strikes a Chord

One of the greatest advantages of belonging to a professional association is the membership benefits that are provided.  One of the many benefits made available to NAPO members are “micro-volunteer-opportunities” where experiences can be shared with other members and important information in the organizing and productivity industry can be disseminated.  One such opportunity was afforded to NAPO Members following the “Organizing For Health: Help Baby Boomers Manage Health Information at a Pivotal Age.” The theme of NAPO content for March is “Clearing the Clutter” which was an underlying theme of the “Boomers” webinar.  

When NAPO members were asked to reflect and share on the Boomers webinar, the flood of responses was incredible.  Sue Pine, Senior Director of NAPO asked webinar attendees about the value of this educational experience.  Members responded that the session was “invaluable” and “game changing.”  The depth of this webinar reached many NAPO members, some of whom currently work with “Boomers” and many who have just started working with senior clients and even more who are now identifying this as a new market for their existing business.  This webinar was led by doctors Cynthia LeRouge, Ph.D. and Deborah E. Seale, Ph.D. who presented the highlights of their research on this important topic.

Dr. Cynthia LeRouge of the University of Washington provided a starting point for the session by defining Baby Boomers.  The Baby Boomer generation spans the 18 years between 1946 and 1964.  This nearly two decade age difference identifies individuals from their early 50s to early 70s.  The difference in needs, technological aptitude and living situations is so vastly different that the needs of each individual within this group vary greatly.  NAPO Member Judith Kolberg found the webinar truly enlightening.  Kolberg identified Boomers’ needs as trending in many unique ways.  “Boomers are besieged by health information from doctors, insurance companies, the internet, health apps and digital health devices like FitBit.”  Add to that the following factors: A growing number of multi-generational households which complicates living and storage spaces;  downsizing by older Boomers; and increased home-based businesses for younger Boomers.  This generation is drowning in information overload.

Julie Bestry shared her surprise over two interrelated comments that “Boomers are both overwhelmed by paper and feel anxiety about [using digital information systems , however, they also feel a sense of] co-responsibility (with the medical community) for maintaining [this information].”  Meaning that they are aware of their need to increase their personal advocacy but do not feel equipped to actually be able to advocate effectively.   

The shifting forms of data collection, in addition to the shift from doctor managed care to patient self-advocacy has created a tremendous need for guidance and assistance.  Ellia Ryan of Less Mess, Less Stress! was intrigued by the idea that Boomers are being expected to have more personal responsibility when it comes to their health care.  The amount of information that comes in paper form as well as digitally can be overwhelming to this generation which is “struggling with cognitive decline and less energy.”  Ryan really resonated with “the statement that [Boomers] can continue to learn, which helps make up for cognitive decline.  Teaching new skills, helping develop systems that work, and being their cheerleader [can help to] bring order to the chaos.”  Organizing professionals who choose to assist this “Grey Tsunami” of the population with the rapidly changing needs in health care will find many opportunities.  

Kimberly Dahline, Your Paper Professional felt validated following this presentation.  “[To] my knowledge there isn’t a really good system for capturing all of your medical information in one central location.”  Dahline encourages clients to be strong personal information advocates but recognizes the importance of having an organizing professional help.  For individuals “it can be a full time job if [they] have a chronic illness or are the caretaker for another.”  The questions flooded in about centralizing information so that it is an easily accessible resource that is secure.  

Barbara Trapp from Zen Your Den, found the presentation invaluable saying “I hadn’t considered adding healthcare/information management to my list of services until this seminar.  Although I had done quite a lot of work for one client in this area, I thought he was the exception, not the rule.  With his many health issues, piles of EOBs and other medical mail, ADHD and memory loss, navigating the red tape was an overwhelming task.  For example, he thought he owed over $11,000 for some procedures when in fact he didn’t know how to read his EOBs or check status n his insurance portal.  I made a spreadsheet for him with the bills, insurance payments and amount due and he was ecstatic to see he owed less than $1,000…I now recognize there is a real need for these services among Baby Boomers, their parents, and anyone with significant health issues.  Professional organizers have the skills and background to meet this need.”

For more information about this informative and engaging topic, or future webinars please visit the Members Only Forum POINT at www.point.napo.net and use the search tool.  NAPO University is pleased to provide NAPO Members with relevant content, current research and opportunities to connect with other professionals in the organizing and productivity industry.  Register for an upcoming opportunity and complete the survey.   

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