So much has happened since my last blog, but while I’ve neglected my blog I’ve been busy publishing on the impact to long term care during the current crisis period and post-COVID-19. Let me tell you what I’ve been working on.
First, however, the inspiration behind my current work. I met a fellow social scientist on a blind date several years back and after a fascinating conversation I went home and bought his book. The book was Generations (1991) by Strauss and Howe and in this book, the authors used historical data dating back to the 16th century to develop a theory that largely explains the crisis period we are currently experiencing. After the 2016 elections, I re-read parts of this book and found in its pages Trump, Clinton and the current state of crisis described with eery accuracy.
Strauss and Howe argue that each generation belongs to one of four types and that these generation types repeat in a generally fixed pattern, ultimately ending in a period of secular crisis. According to the authors, Baby Boomers who are described as idealist, moralistic- and action-driven are leading us during this current crisis period and it is only something akin to a world war or a cultural revolution that can reset us. I’m counting on the cultural revolution! The last crisis period was 1925-1942 and included the Great Depression and World War II, before that it was the U.S. Civil War.
In September 2020, I had the opportunity to publish a piece with Joanne Lynn, a hospice physician and an amazing thought-leader in long term care. In it, Joanne and I went back and forth talking about the current state of long term care in this current crisis period and how we might use this period productively to produce a better result in long term care post-COVID. The following is an excerpt from our commentary:
“Norwood: …I think we are indeed in a crisis period where extreme partisan politics, intolerance, inequities, and now a world-wide pandemic are exposing flaws we can no longer ignore in outdated policies for policing, environment and climate change, healthcare and long term care, just to name a few. In this age of information, science and scientific method compete against the wealth of information and misinformation available via the web. Science is too often pitted, and sometimes losing, against the proliferation of unvetted information, compounded by the hysteria-provoking commodification of the 24/7 news cycle and the cacophony of reports of ever breaking news. What is reassuring, however, is to think of this as a predictable cyclical process where the current crisis period, if Strauss and Howe are right, will be followed by cultural change, peace, and potentially a new social order.”
Lynn: “Yes, we are in a crisis period, precipitated by COVID-19, but building on the fragile tower of dramatic increases in the gap between the well-off and nearly everyone else, with little manufacturing and an underpaid service economy. The powerful are able to keep widening the gaps and failing to deal with social issues – because they can… We need to create an entity that takes responsibility for the well-being of everyone in a geographic area – all who are living with serious chronic conditions and disabilities. Then, the family that is stretched beyond capacity while trying to support the matriarch of the family is part of the cohort of concern, not just those who have a doctor and a Medicare Advantage plan. Such an entity needs data, authority, and some resources. Many countries have such an entity, but we don’t. I think of this rather like a school board or a government-authorized public utility” (Norwood and Lynn 2020).
Check out the rest of our commentary in the September 2020 edition of the Journal of Aging Studies: Norwood, F. and Joanne Lynn. 2020. Taking long term care from crisis to thriving in the time of COVID-19.