Fresh out of high school I had many goals. Like most goals mine posed some challenges, with a lack of money being centre stage.
How to fund tertiary studies, eat, live and pay for it all?
I had ventured to a foreign land which enabled me to earn higher wages, but once off the plane, cold hard reality set in. I had what amounted to about 2 weeks living costs and no plan B. I felt like Greece!
Long story short I took a job looking after people, most old, some disabled and some both old and disabled. People who for whatever reason could no longer look after themselves. They needed care, and staying in their own homes was a much better solution than the alternatives.
The Job Description
The job required me to be on call 24 hours a day, and I got a weekend off once a month. I administered suppositories, cleaned soiled clothing, washed people, cleaned bed sores, cooked meals, sat patiently for hours listening to some, while others had lost their speech (its called dysphasia) so it was my turn to talk to them. I would wake through the night every few hours to turn others in their sleep (bed sores are painful and ugly).
It would have sounded like bonded slavery to most 18-year-old kids, certainly most of my former high school friends would rather have contracted syphilis than cook, feed, and clean an old woman who couldn’t remember your name each day, and who regularly soiled her clothes.
Me… I was grateful. I’d managed to eliminate my essential living costs as food and shelter were provided. I had insufficient time off to fritter my earnings away at pubs and I could peacefully study at nights and often during part of the day (older people sleep a lot). I saved about 90% of my earnings after paying university fees and built myself a small capital base in under 1 year.
In addition to the financial benefits, I learned a lot of things in that job, compassion, humility, dealing with anger, despair, loneliness, pain, death and loss. I don’t think I could have had a better education fresh out of my schooling cubicle.
Oh Jeez Chris, what does this have to do with capitalism already?
What We Can Learn From This
In October 2007 the first American baby boomer received her social security check. There are 80 Million right behind her. Britain, Europe, Australia, Japan, they’ve all got tens of millions retiring right now. The effects of this massive demographic wave are beginning to be felt and the implications are many.
Aged care is one sector that will undoubtedly benefit from this shift. There are many ways to position yourself from this trickle that will turn into a flood. Rest homes, incontinence pads, healthcare providers, lawn bowls, funeral parlors, coffins. I’m sure you can think of a few yourself.
If we look back at history we are often surprised by the wonderful technologies that have eventuated out of a crisis.
Later this week I’ll highlight some areas that I’ve been looking at which are relevant to this discussion. In the meantime I’d be interested to know readers thoughts on how to profit from this demographic reality.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young” – Henry Ford