Archive for July, 2012

Baby Boomers Increasing as Caregivers

Monday, July 9th, 2012 by admin

Approximately 43.5 million adult children over the age of 50 – America’s baby boomer generation – are caring for their aging loved ones, reports the Family Caregiver Alliance. Many of these boomers are squeezed between facing their own health needs and the need to still work and actively provide the best care for their parents and other loved ones. About 10,000 U.S. baby boomers reach age 65 every day, and as people live longer, this generation may be the first to care equally as long for parents as for children.

A 2011 AARP Public Policy Institute study found that in 2009 the average caregiver was a 49-year-old woman who worked outside the home while investing nearly 20 hours per week in unpaid care for her mother. A MetLife study revealed that the total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension and Social Security benefits of adult caregivers of parents is nearly $3 trillion. But the toll on the new normal of boomers as caregivers is more than financial. Countless boomers are just not prepared for the physical and emotional impact of assisting their older loved ones.

“Family caregiving is becoming more and more commonplace for baby boomers,” said Walter Ochoa, President, Right at Home Brooklyn. “Some loved ones need more personal day-to-day care, while others only need occasional help living independently. The key is finding the right resources to match the needs of both loved one and caregiver.” Right at Home is a leading provider of in-home companion and personal care to senior citizens and other adults.

The best time to plan for care needs of parents and older loved ones is before the person’s health or living situation reaches a crisis mode. Here are suggestions for assisting with personal care and/or financial resources:

  • Talk together as a family about long-term care and a senior’s preferences and goals.
  • Consider modifying the loved one’s home with handrails, chairlifts, etc. instead of moving him or her into a care facility.
  • Discuss finances and insurance needs openly, referring to an elder law attorney, financial planner or other geriatric care support when needed.
  • To ease the load of caregiving, consider home care companies like Right at Home, which can provide everything from transportation and homemaking to hygiene care and skilled nursing.
  • Be sure the senior has an advance care directive, which includes a durable power of attorney that gives someone legal authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the senior. A health care proxy also is needed to allow someone to make medical treatment decisions for the loved one, and a living will details plans for end-of-life care.

 Because boomers are the “sandwich generation,” faced with the challenges of elder/parent care and helping their own children, caregiver professionals advise the boomers pay special attention to their own health and energy reserves. A MetLife 2010 study on working caregivers found that among female caregivers 50 years and older, 20 percent reported signs of depression. Boomer caregivers who simultaneously juggle work and raising adolescent children or young grandchildren encounter an increased risk for chronic illness, decreased emotional health and the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. To keep a healthy balance in life, caregivers are encouraged to:

  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods and drink extra water.
  • Make room for exercise several times a week.
  • Keep up-to-date on your own medical and dental appointments.

 Caregiving can be both a rewarding personal experience and a stressful demand. Boomers who plan ahead and talk through care options with their loved ones will be better prepared when a slowed stage of life comes knocking. Knowing a senior is safeguarded and content in his or her physical surroundings is truly a gift to any caregiver, especially those approaching their own mature years.

Right at Home of Brooklyn provides services, support and resources to older adults and offers a list of the “Top 10 Things to Discuss With Your Parents” to help boomers and caregivers of any age better assess the needs of their aging loved ones. Visit rightathome.net under About You for these helpful discussion topics.

About Right at Home of Brooklyn

The Brooklyn office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., serving the communities of New York City. For more information, contact Right at Home of Brooklyn at www.rah-nyc.com , 347-554-8400 or by email at wochoa@rah-nyc.com