Stuck in the Middle...shared stories and tips for caregiving elderly parents
- Created on September 9th, 2009
- By Barbara McVicker
The emerging problem
With upwards of 75 million adult children caring for their elderly parents, the US is facing an immense demand on families as the aging population overwhelms the system. Our national system is not prepared for the economic and health care needs of this population. People are living longer with increased levels of disabilities.
African-American families rely heavily on informal caregivers. 70%-80% of all in-home care is provided by family members. As more women enter the workforce, fewer women will be available to care for family members in their homes. There will be a huge shift to paid formal caregiving.
Challenges facing caregivers
Caregiving is defined as dependence on another person for any activity of essential living. Being Stuck in the Middle of being employed, raising children and now taking care of older parents, caregiving is one more stressor. Caregivers feel they cannot win, they either give too much or not enough.
The physical toll
Health care providers are now recognizing the physical toll taken on the caregiver. According to the National Academy of Sciences, as much as 3-10 years are taken off the life of the adult child caregiver. The stress impacts the person's immune system and increases their chances of developing a chronic illness, according to the Ohio State University Medical School.
In the newly released book Stuck in the Middle…shared stories and tips for caregiving your elderly parents, author Barbara McVicker found 10 themes common to all adult children caregivers. One theme is that most families wait until there is a crisis before getting organized. Being proactive instead of reactive makes families less stressed. Also, caregiving usually falls on one child. This can create a lot of tension between siblings. All of caregiving is filled with emotion.
In the 200+ interviews conducted for the book, two basic needs were identified. Caregivers need support and information. Support can come in the form of delegating tasks, hiring help, and receiving emotional support from others in the same situation. Information about medical and legal documents, communication tips, senior housing options, etc. are essential. Information is empowering in a situation where you feel powerless and overwhelmed.
Biggest misconception about caregiving
“It isn’t going to happen to me!” Caregiving is an unscheduled event you are never fully prepared for.
Since 70% of adult children have never talked to their parents about finances, there is the misconception of how the caregiving will be funded. Do Mom and Dad have so much money that we can all take a cruise together, or do I need to work another 5 years to pay for their care? Now is the time to find out.
Book and author link:
Stuck in the Middle –please visit www.BarbaraMcVicker.com
- Eldercare Locator
- Children of Aging Parents
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- Alzheimers Association
- Hospice Foundation