Who will take care of you?
People often don’t realize what it means to “care for” an aging parent or spouse. It sounds like the right thing to do, and often is the only alternative available. The day to day reality is that it is physically demanding and emotionally challenging work.
Sometimes it is the spouse who cares for the individual. Often though, the spouse is also aging and may have health issues of their own. They may suddenly find themselves in the role of caregiver on a 24/7 basis, a job for which they are untrained and unconditioned. They may become isolated from their friends, and become worn down, tired and sick themselves.
Long Term Care Insurance Specialist
Caregiving takes a toll on the caregiver:
- Increased rate of substance abuse
- Increased rate of depression
- Increased rate of illness
Source: Mental Health and Aging; Bane pp. 103-107
• Heavy duty caregivers, especially spousal caregivers, do not get consistent help from other family members. One study has shown that as many as three fourths of these caregivers are "going it alone".
Source: Caregiving Across the Life Cycle
• Elderly caregivers with a history of chronic illness themselves who are experiencing caregiving related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than their non-caregiving peers.
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, December 15, 1999,
Forty-one percent of the time, it is the children who take care of the aging parent, seventy percent if you include son/daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The term “Sandwich Generation” refers to those people who are managing those caregiving tasks, while also raising their own family.
For many, it’s a privacy issue. How comfortable would you be with your daughter or son having to do things or see things that you may not want them to? Having a professional caregiver allows the family members to provide companionship, not services.
Effects of caregiving
Various studies have linked caregiving with serious health consequences including increased risk of coronary heart disease; elevated blood pressure and increased risk of developing hypertension, and an increased risk of mortality.
Sixty-one percent (61%) of "intense" family caregivers (those providing at least 21 hours of care a week) have suffered from depression. Some studies have shown that caregiver stress inhibits healing.
Source: National Family Caregivers Association/Fortis Long Term Care (Caregiving Across the Life Cycle) 1998