22 Feb Being a Caregiver
Becoming a caregiver for an elderly parent or spouse/domestic partner is a role many adults will play at some point in their lives. This situation may happen suddenly, usually after a serious fall, or come on gradually after a series of minor accidents or declining health by an elderly loved one. Although U.S. life expectancy has decreased slightly, Americans are living well into their late 70s. If they make it to age 65, both men and women can expect to live about another 20 years. The National Institute on Aging (NIH) reports that approximately 15 million Americans provide unpaid care to an older adult.
CARING FOR AN AGING PARENT
Caring for an elderly parent comes with its own set of complex issues. Although there are sons who provide care for a parent, it is usually a job that falls to an adult daughter. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the typical caregiver is a 46 year old woman (with some college) who provides more than 20 hours of care each week to her mother. She is a member of the Sandwich Generation—a group of people who care for an aging parent while still providing support for their children.
Even if there are multiple siblings in a family, typically only one assumes the responsibility to coordinate all of a parent’s care—which can lead to resentment. Sometimes geographical location determines who takes on the job. Or, it may fall to the sibling who has the proper accommodations in the home, financial stability, and the time available to provide care.
Caring for an aging parent brings up a range of emotions. There can be joy and reward of being able to help an aging parent to anger and bitterness at being placed in the role of caregiver. The situation can become overwhelming and difficult to manage. These factors can cause the caregiver to develop physical and emotional health issues.
Remember to make yourself a priority:
– Ask for help from other family members. (This can come in may forms, from a supportive phone call, to assistance in making legal and financial decisions.)
– Spend time with friends.
– Join a support group in person or online.
– Take breaks each day.
– Keep up with hobbies.
– Find ways to have fun.
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