44 Million, 21 Percent of All US Households, Provide Care For an Elder Adult Family Member Or Friend
A growing crisis and concern, caring for elder adults is unlike child care. Where as the dependency of children decreases over time, with an aging parent, it will increase. Many of us have successfully raised our children and maintained excellent work records. Our sons and daughters suffering only minimal scars of our leaving them alone and in the care of others. Through all of this, we usually had the joy of watching them progress, and learn, becoming more responsible and reliable. If we did it right, they are taking care of their business, and achieving more than we could ever dream of. As the primary care giver, we feel successful, and believe the loss of sleep has well been worth it.
The same cannot be said when the object of your caregiving is a parent. There are few options available for unbiased help. Feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment often accompany elder care giving. The sleepless nights are constant, and the knowledge that this is not going to get better takes a major emotional toll on the entire family. If there are multiple siblings, everyone has a lot of opinions, but few have solution. Add the workplace stress, and current economic downturn and this becomes a recipe for disaster. Caught between being the child yourself and having children of your own, family dynamics become a major source of pain. What is the solution?
I am constantly surprised by the response of so many individuals when presented with the question “what are you going to do in the future?” Most respond with an attitude of I will deal with it when the time comes. Unfortunately, that is usually a highly emotionally charged crisis, and normally the result of a physical injury such as a fall, wandering, or burns. The adult child is now faced with the emotional pain of having neglected the obvious decline in their parent, and has only days to decide what can or should be done for the future of the parent. Far too many will just bring them home. Not realizing that they do not have the resources available to adequately take care of the parent. More importantly, they are unaware of the changes that will take place and the resources available to them.
The solution is to be up front early on. Regardless of what mom and dad say, they will need help in the future. Regardless of what you believe you are capable of, you will need expert help in the future. Learning as much as you can before you need the information can mean the difference between living a miserable existence in anger and resentment, or loving the later years of your parents life, connecting with them in dignity and love.
It has only been in the last few decades that so many people have lived so long. The average was 70, now it is 80+. Physically, mentally and emotionally there is a need to maintain activity and engagement. When you begin your research on the aging process, do not turn a blind eye. Try to become an observer, and really practice taking your self out of the child role, and create a partnership of equals. Participate in seminars, usually free, that cover a variety of topics. By broadening your knowledge base, you will not find out after the fact. If I had only known is repeated thousands of times a day, by caregivers and family members. Do not wait for Crisis to happen, before you begin learning. In Dana Point, Ca check out the Choice before Crisis, solutions for adult children and seniors seminars. These are directed at the adult children caregivers agency