Caregiving among younger people as their Boomer parents move toward retirement is so common that they do not even consider it caregiving. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) considers any fairly regular activity, like taking a parent to the doctor or over-the-counter testing for blood sugars, as part of their ‘Caregiver’ category, though the person giving the care rarely notes such activity in surveys or tax forms.
But what is also happening, according to research by the AARP, is that many children in their middle age are giving fairly advanced care without the training required to do things like taking care of catheters or monitoring medications. What might this kind of off-the-books care mean for those giving it?
No doubt much of the motivation for the kids to do ever more of the medical duties for their parents is economic. As the present economy only rewards financiers and corporate boards, working people need to squeeze health-care pennies as tightly as possible. And surely their fears about cuts in Medicare over the next few years will encourage such penny-pinching.
Nevertheless, the care they offer adds pressures to their own families and their own health. As “The Guide To Retirement Living Sourcebook”:
If you are a caregiver, be sure to put your health first and ahead of all other priorities. Caregiving, while often rewarding, is physically and emotionally demanding work. What’s more, you can’t care for someone if you don’t take care of yourself. Be sure to eat nutritious meals, get enough rest, see your doctor regularly and exercise.
Imagine how many people are not taking care of themselves while taking care of others – if they don’t consider themselves caregivers.
The AARP has a list of resources for those who are giving care that address what to consider when giving care, and what to consider when in-house care proves inadequate. Amateur homecare (‘amateur’ in the classic sense of ‘for the love’) might , but the costs are real – and likely to grow. How will we budget for the inevitable?