National trends show that the fastest growing segment of our population (85 years or older) will continue to increase as 77 million people enter their “golden years.” Providing for the needs of our rapidly aging society is one of the great challenges of our time. If we hope to meet this challenge without significant tax increases, we must start encouraging and expecting families to play a greater role.

Our elders have great value as human beings regardless of physical or mental limitations. They deserve our care and protection. They are also our connection with the past. Sadly, too many suffer from loneliness and depression, feeling society has forgotten them. We can do better. We believe the family is the best place to care for these vulnerable members of society. When families meet the needs of an aging parent or grandparent, we also benefit by learning lessons of the past that enrich our lives and those of future generations. Michigan should encourage families to plan and prepare for future needs, promote family caregiving, and foster intergenerational relationships.