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Aging Parents: Moving into the Caretaking Stage

These tips can help you and your parent make a smooth transition from nursing home care to home care.

Aging Parents: Moving into the Caretaking Stage

The facts and figures of the aging population become particularly important to women when one considers that…

  • Women make up 72 percent of those unpaid family members who serve as caregivers; and, 64 percent of these women also work full or part time.
  • Daughters make up the largest proportion of these caretakers.
  • A growing number of caregivers are women over age 65 who face their own "graying" problems.
  • In the American culture, according to the vast majority of research, it is still regarded as a daughter's responsibility to care for an elderly parent.
  • Twenty percent of a woman's life span will involve a parent over the age of 65.

Shifting from Nursing Homes to a Daughter's Home

In light of the pertinent facts outlined above, consider the impact of a statement made in Nursing Economics: The emphasis on caretaking of the elderly is shifting from hospital or skilled nursing facilities to home and family care. The effect this will have on caretakers ( primarily daughters) and those who need care (elderly moms) is enormous when you look at the following statistics:

  • The fastest growing portion of the American population is individuals over age 85. Most of those are women who are widowed or alone due to other circumstances.
  • Nearly 31 million Americans are over the age of 65. By the year 2025 that number should climb to 62 million. In 1992 there were 19 million women over the age of 65. By the year 2035, it is projected that one in four Americans will be over the age of 65.
  • Of those over age 65, approximately 1.6 million live in the community (compared to 1.5 million in nursing homes), either alone or with family members, and require assistance in daily activities from dressing to eating. Sixty-two percent of them are women.

Caring for a Parent in Your Own Home

Dr. Joseph Russell said it's important not to overtake tasks older people can still perform. To refrain from doing so requires patience understanding, energy, and love. From his article in MidLife Woman, "Caring for Aging Parents," June 1, 1994, is a list of questions and concerns to discuss with Mom:

  1. Would she be able to live in a home where she would not be the reigning lady of the house but a participant and not the primary manager?
  2. Would she understand that her needs might not be put first above all other family members, and could she accept that?
  3. Would she be able to fit herself into the household style of daily life and activities?
  4. Would she be able to maintain her own friendships and social life in this setting?
  5. Would living in her daughter's home provide enough privacy for her?

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