Boomers will lead in caregiving

Posted on August 18, 2011 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

This headline is what caught my attention: “Caregiving Is Becoming The New Normal For Baby Boomers.” The first paragraph discusses how many baby boomers are caregivers and don’t know it.  After all, driving mom or dad to a doctor’s appointment is not that big of a deal. It’s normal. You do what you have to do, and you do it because it is for family or a friend.

Interestingly though, as time passes, the “normal” likely evolves into including shopping, cooking or providing medical help (making sure drugs are taken, monitoring blood pressure, sores, etc.) or doing yard work, finances, etc.  This is norm for more and more baby boomers each day.

Baby boomers are getting to that sweet spot age for caregiving – the age when mom and dad need help.  And in not too many years, these boomer-caregivers will need help themselves.

There are many challenges associated with caregiving, and the first is recognizing that one is a caregiver. As noted in the article above, many people don’t view their activities as caregiving activities. There is nothing wrong with this, but there are advantages to recognizing that one is a caregiver. Caregiving duties typically increase in scope over time, so the sooner one recognizes the caregiving role, the better prepared they can be.

What preparation is there? This really depends on the situation. In the early stages of caregiving, there is limited demand on time and energy. However, as caregiving duties increase, the demands on the caregiver increase significantly. It is at this point that the lifestyle of the caregiver (and his/her family) is impacted and this can create stress.

Statistically, one in four people are in some stage of caregiving. This number is sure to increase as  our population increases. To this point in time, little has been done to recognize the importance of the caregiver, and more importantly, to help support the caregiver in his/her role.  My guess is this will change as more Boomers move into this role.  The boomers will once again, lead the way.

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