by Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Associaion™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy
Adult children across the country belong to the sandwich generation. Like salami and cheese, they feel squished between the responsibilities of their careers, elder care and raising their kids. Often, family caregivers sacrifice their own well-being and financial security to help their parents grow old gracefully.
The situation isn’t easing anytime soon. The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about trends, estimates that ten thousand people are now turning 65 every day. This so-called silver tsunami will continue for the next three decades. At the same time, the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University reports that boomers age 65 and older are expected to increase at a 2.3% rate while the number of family members available to care for them will increase at less than 1%. The pressure on families now and in the future, particularly women, is immense.
Caregiving for an aging parent or loved one isn’t all doom and gloom. The rewards of caregiving are real but so are the hidden costs.
On the plus side, adult children see their role as “giving back” to someone special. The payoff is not monetary, but it is an opportunity to care for a person who has been an important figure in their life – a mom who raised them alone or a dad who never let them down. Finding purpose and meaning through this labor of love makes all the work worth the time and effort.
But being a family caregiver is hard work. It demands a lot of time, patience, and persistence. Those who start with realistic expectations reach out for help and plan ahead. They fare much better through the ups and downs than those who don’t. The hidden costs of caring for a family member should be considered and planned for carefully.
About the author: Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and a Past President of the Aging Life Care Association. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @JullieGray, or email her at email@example.com. Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.