Let's face it: Baby boomers are a large group, and when we collectively sneeze, many arms offering Kleenex are extended. So while research and marketing labs are busy figuring out what products and services boomers will need -- problems they can solve for us, if you will -- we'd like to get the ball rolling with a few ideas. Readers, feel free to add your own in the comments.
Alternative Living Arrangements
Let's face it: A generation of savers, we weren't. Since we are all pretty much broke and staring down the retirement barrel without a clue of how to afford it, there's no time like the present for someone to come up with a cheaper form of housing for us. A circle of double-wides around a campfire in the desert? How about returning to some form of 1960s communal living, with groups sharing a house and hiring a "community" housekeeper, driver and cook? Trust me, we'll consider anything.
A Vision-Enhancing Device That Lets You See When You Are Applying Eye Makeup
You know those older ladies with the overly rouged cheeks? We can only assume their clown-like appearance is accidental and a byproduct of not being able to wear their glasses when they are applying makeup. Practically speaking, if you can't see without your glasses, how exactly are you suppose to see to apply blush or eyeliner? We are envisioning a kind of split eyeglasses, which you can flip up one side at a time.
Hotels That Provide Single-Room Occupancy Without A Surcharge
Hotels need to have rooms for one. Same goes for cruise ships. In older life, not everyone travels in pairs. Among people age 65 or older, 47 percent of women and 18 percent of men now live alone, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/baby-boomers-singles-retirement/story?id=15851556#.UCKx359Yvqo" target="_hplink">according to U.S. Census data</a>. It would be nice to not be penalized for being alone and wanting to travel. Travel company <a href="http://www.tauck.com/" target="_hplink">Tauck</a> recently announced it would be giving a break to solo river cruisers by dropping its single supplement charges for lower-level cabins on its 2013 European river cruises. <a href="http://travel.usatoday.com/cruises/post/2012/06/crystal-cruises-single-supplement-sale-discount/790982/1" target="_hplink">Crystal Cruises</a> took a baby step in the right direction by having a "solo travelers' sale" on fall Mediterranean voyages. The line reduced its single supplement to 10 percent, which it says will save people up to $900 off a private, deluxe outside cabin. Watch for others to follow suit.
Someone To Help Our Aging Parents Come Visit
What can a boomer do when Mom or Dad lives across the country? Can you seriously expect aging parents to get themselves on the plane to come visit you? (If you answered "yes," you likely haven't been near an airport lately.) Enter Gary Bates of Phoenix. Bates spent 37 years as a pilot for American Airlines and TWA. He saw firsthand the difficulties that older travelers had negotiating the new world order of airplane travel -- and it wasn't pretty. Security rules, baggage requirements -- stuff that goes way beyond worrying about whether the airport porter can help with the heavy bags. When he left the airline industry, he and his wife started <a href="http://care-to-go.com/travel-companion/" target="_hplink">Care-To-Go</a>, a business providing traveling companions for aged or otherwise physically challenged people.
Personal Assistants Paid For By Medicare
The country needs to create jobs, right? Well, as we age, boomers will need help navigating life's daily errands: paying our bills online, remembering to refill prescriptions before the pill bottle is empty, driving to the supermarket and doctors' appointments -- you know, all the things adult children are doing for their aging parents. How about turning over some of that to the public workforce? Getting help with the little things will help people stay in their homes longer, stay healthier and it will ease the burden on family caregivers.
Medical Bills You Can Understand
Admit it: The only part of your medical bills that you care about is where it says what you owe out of pocket. Knowing this has enabled insurance companies and Big Pharma to cut deals and leave you out of the equation. Truth is you might actually be better off not using your health insurance for prescription drug coverage and a lot of other medical stuff. You can get a better deal by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/pay-cash-to-your-doctor-s_n_1571564.html?1346338571 " target="_hplink">paying cash out of pocket</a> instead of coughing up the often-larger amount required to meet your co-pay and deductible. Someone should come up with a one-page medical bill that says: "It cost this much. You pay this much" -- insurance or no insurance.
Senior Discounts With Some Bite
Discounts are nice and all, but how about offering them in more meaningful areas to seniors besides when they agree to eat dinner at 4 p.m.? We suggest discounts on phone calls to and from immediate family members, Internet providers and free shipping on all online orders and grocery deliveries. Helping seniors stay connected and be able to fend for themselves without asking for help are key to independent living.
A Spot On The List Of Community Service Recipients For Seniors Who Live In Their Homes
Many high schools require community service hours from their students as a graduation requirement, and as a result lots of nursing homes and animal shelters get visited. How about adding home visits to seniors too? A teenager can come visit, make a cup of tea and stay for awhile. Maybe even rent a movie and watch it together?