Are you worried about providing elder care for your senior parents?
Let’s open with some sobering statistics that you cannot ignore for much longer. The number of people caring for an aging parent has soared in the past 15 years, according to MetLife. In 1994, 3 percent of men, and 9 percent of women, helped with basic care for an aging parent; In 2008, these numbers increased to 17 percent of men, and 28 percent of women providing help which is defined as dressing, feeding, bathing, and other personal care needs. This goes well beyond grocery shopping, driving parents to appointments, and helping them with financial matters. And it is more stressful as well. In 2011, nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 provided this care for an aging parent.
In a deeper look at options available for seniors with limited finances who cannot stay in their own home because they are unable to care for themselves anymore, USA Today reports that most families are unprepared for the news that Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care. The median cost of a year in a private room at a nursing home in 2011 was $77,745, according to Genworth. Assisted Living is another option, but it’s also not cheap and isn’t covered by Medicaid. The national median cost in 2011 was $39,135, by Genworth’s count. With 90 percent of elderly parents preferring to stay at home, from AARP research, families are left with the agonizing question of who will be stepping up to care for Mom or Dad.
As more people live into their 90’s, most of us will face caregiving responsibilities, or need caregiving ourselves. AARP says 45 million Americans perform some kind of caregiving. After A. Barry Rand, CEO of AARP, experienced caring for his own elderly father, he began addressing the daunting problem of caregiving by building the AARP Caregiving Resource Center in January 2012 where caregivers can come together to find experts and advice through local agencies. What starts out as just helping our parent can quickly turn into a full-time job.
I was not at all thinking the job would fall to me. Until it did.
I had no idea the call was coming, but my mother’s invitation to visit opened my eyes to the pitfalls of seniors living alone in a home they can no longer manage. It was enough for me to uproot my life to fulfill her wish that she live out the rest of her years in her own home.
No one prepared me for this undertaking and what I learned has become the subject of my new book 9 Realities of Caring For An Elderly Parent: A Love Story of A Different Kind, a funny, compassionate account of your daunting role if you are the adult child coming home to care for your elderly parent until the very end. Released August 2013 and available at amazon.com/kindle.
Blog question: How did your life change when you took on the role of caring for your elderly parent?