As older adults are increasingly living into very old age, younger seniors may be finding themselves aging alongside their elderly parent or parents. And the retirement years, when the responsibilities of caring for children or elderly loved-ones were expected to lift, are not as care-free as some older adults may have anticipated.
According to a recent report in the New York Times, this phenomenon of parents and children “aging together” is becoming more common. And with greater longevity, family resources; financial, physical and emotional are being stretched thinner and thinner. Research led by Kathrin Boerner, a profession of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is studying how late-in-life caregiving affects older adults and their health and well-being.
Caregivers of all ages can suffer burn-out and it is common for adults providing unpaid care for an elderly loved-one to become socially isolated, depressed or fail to take proper care of their own health. But when the caregiver is also an older adult, most frequently a woman, the toll on health can be compounded.
And not only does being a primary caregiver make seniors more likely to develop chronic health conditions like high blood pressure or heart problems, financial and interpersonal strains can also increase stress for caregivers. It’s important for any caregiver to take breaks to exercise, enjoy social time with friends and schedule appointments for self-care. A geriatric care manager can help families develop a plan to finance care for elderly loved-ones while ensuring caregivers don’t sacrifice their health and happiness or future financial security.
It’s a delicate balancing act to care for parents in the best way possible and often it takes a combination of paid and unpaid help to meet the needs of the very old. Each family will approach caregiving slightly differently; talking about plans for the future can be facilitated with the help of a trained professional when dealing with the sometimes difficult and complex issues surrounding geriatric care. Learn more by following this link to the National Institute on Aging.