As the circle of life has it, those who cared for you as a child are now needing you to care for them. This is not an easy change from a psychological, emotional, time management, career, personal health or financial standpoint. Know, though, that you are not alone, and are part of an increasingly large group of family caregivers.
Why the increase in family care?
First of all, why is there such an increase in the number of aging parents needing in-home care? There are a number of contributing factors: people living longer (both adult children and our parents), higher divorce rates that leave the child rather than the spouse as the caregiver, concerns regarding costs of professional care, and general personal preference on the part of the parent and/or the child.
Why is it so much different than in the past? The baby boomers had less children than did their parents, distributing the responsibility of parental care across less children and incomes. Also, daughters are twice as likely to care for parents than sons are. As women’s incomes continue to increase from where they were during past generations, a daughter reducing hours or leaving the workforce to care for parents has a much larger impact on a family’s financial situation than in the past when a woman’s income provided a more nominal portion of a family’s total earnings.
Furthermore, there is the rising phenomenon of the Sandwich Generation. It can be described many ways, but it basically refers to people simultaneously responsible financially or otherwise for family members older (parents, grandparents) and younger (children, grandchildren). According to SeniorLiving.org, 1 in 7 adults in their 40’s or 50’s are currently financially assisting both their parent(s) and one or more children.
A study from Center for Retirement Research at Boston College was done that shines a light on some interesting statistics regarding children caregivers:
So what to do?
My parents are still going strong! Should I be doing anything?
First of all, be appreciative of their strength, health, and your time with them. Take the time to visit your parents on a regular basis. If you live far away, be sure to at least talk with them regularly. More than 50% of people over the age of 85 need help with daily living tasks, ranging from shopping and taking medication to more basic self-care activities such as getting out of bed, bathing, and so on. Regular communication will make it easier to identify struggles they may be having and help them stay in their home for as long as possible.
All unique, yet all the same
No one’s life is exactly like another’s. Our personalities, health conditions, financial strength, network, and so on all differ, yet if you’re caring for a loved one at home you’re undoubtedly going through the same thing as millions of others. Share your tips for things that have helped you and your family.