Thursday, November 29, 2012

Assessing Baby Boomers

I believe the ability to accurately assess older clients has, and will continue to become an important issue in counseling. As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement and older age, this population will need assessments that may be somewhat different than the typical measures used for evaluating older individuals from previous generations. People live longer and the needs of the current aging population has demands not common in the aging population of 50, or even 20 years ago. As Whiston (2009) mentioned, 60 is the new 40, and this group has expectations for their future (Mellor & Rehr, eds., 2005). The knowledge used for the current elderly population will not suffice for those who are aging now (Mellor & Rehr, eds., 2005).

The sheer numbers of individuals entering later adulthood and their new breed of needs has powerful implications for the profession. The needs themselves create a necessity along with the fact that this country has never before experienced such a large number of individuals entering into old age simultaneously (Mellor & Rehr, eds., 2005). This generation has a history of activism, and even as they age, will most likely continue to make demands on the profession, which will instigate new means of measuring "grief, loss and loneliness, and depression" (Whiston, 2009, p. 404). An abundance of research determined that this group will continue to break the mold as they age (Frey, 2010).

This group will most likely not be the bingo players of today's elderly population, and along with their unusual need for activity, they may also approach psychological issues differently (Richman, 2012). Barbera (2012) claimed the greatest psychosocial needs of this population will be social connectedness, their vastly different preferences as compared to previous aging populations, their penchant toward continuing education and their love of activism, especially as it pertains to their physical and mental health care. They will want to be centrally involved in any decisions made about their care and they will demand to be educated on the meaning and results of any assessment used to make decisions about their care.

The Baby Boomer generation will expect support systems, especially those that advocate and facilitate self-support, and in concert with their awareness of the mind body connection, they may instigate significant change in the counseling profession, specifically, how psychological issues are assessed (Barbera, 2012).

Barbera, E. F. (2012). 10 anticipated psychosocial needs of baby boomers. Long-Term Living: For the Continuing Care Professional, 61(2), 32-33.

Frey, W. H. (2010). Baby Boomers and the new demographics of America's seniors. Generations, 34(3), 28-37.

Mellor, M. J., & Rehr, H. (Eds.). (2005). Baby boomers: Can my eighties be like my fifties? New York, NY: Springer.

Richman, A. (2012). Are Wii ready for the baby boomers? Long-Term Living: For the Continuing Care Professional (LONG TERM LIVING), 2012 Apr; 61(4): 24-6, 61(4), 24-29.

Whiston, S. C. (2009). Principles and applications of assessment in counseling (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

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