Caregiving of any kind comes with a fair share of stress; and for those who find themselves coping with aging parents or loved ones and acting as the primary caregiver, these stressors can be particularly acute and emotionally burdensome. But now, it turns out that men are even more vulnerable to eldercare stress than their female counterparts – and incidentally, the number of men taking on caregiving roles for aging family members has doubled over the past 15 years.
Taking care of aging loved ones – be they parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles – is a trying experience, and one for which few of us are innately prepared. Dealing with the complexities of a parent’s age, illness, mental and physical deterioration or even simple lifestyle adjustments can take its toll, and result in anxiety or, in some cases, even opportunistic or abusive behavior on the part of adult children who find themselves suddenly “parenting” their parents. When caring for your aging parents, it is therefore of the utmost importance to seek help at the first opportunity – and to create a trusted network of family, friends, community resources and geriatric care professionals who can be there to provide assistance, guidance, part-time care and financial advice for the sake of both your health and your loved one’s safety and comfort.
According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, an estimated 40-60 million Americans are currently involved in caring for aging loved ones – often without the aid of professional geriatric care managers and, as a result, also facing a unique set of needs and challenges that are predominantly ignored in our current political climate. Yet among the myriad issues raised during recent Occupy protests across the nation, rights for the frail elderly and their caregivers were notably absent. Why? One simple explanation is that caregivers often lack the time, motivation and support necessary to organize on behalf of their peers and aging parents. While there are several groups that do their best to represent caregivers within the political arena, it is often more practical and efficient for individuals struggling with elder care responsibilities to solicit the help of professional caregiving consultants for expert advice and guidance.
The holiday season is a prime opportunity for families to gather together and reconnect. But while many seasonal gatherings are joyous occasions, individuals with aging parents may also encounter certain changes in their loved ones’ health and behavior to cause concern. Such circumstances can be troubling, and pose a difficult situation for children of aging parents as they struggle to determine the best course of action. By combining the following suggestions with custom counsel from a professional geriatric care manager, individuals can broach the topic of their loved ones’ changing health and lifestyle needs with both confidence and compassion.
This year, the Medicare “open enrollment” period began on October 15, and will continue to run through December 7 — constituting a window that falls much earlier than usual, and which subsequently threatens to leave some seniors and their caregivers unprepared. According to NPR, those who rely upon Medicare for health benefits and prescription drugs should be aware not only of the bumped-up enrollment period, but also of other changes to the open season that will impact the breadth and quality of benefits to which members are entitled.
According to recent coverage in Bloomberg Businessweek, the U.S. government has announced that Social Security recipients will receive a 3.6% bump in their benefits beginning in January 2012. The new cost of living adjustment (COLA) marks the first raise for seniors since 2009, when they received a 5.8% increase in benefits; and as stated by AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond, the boost is likely to be “welcome news” that will “ease the financial hardship many older Americans face today.”
Earlier this summer, the federal government approved an 11.1% cut in Medicare rates effective on October 1, 2011. As that date nears, seniors and elder care professionals are now bracing for the impact of those cuts – and desperately seeking ways to slash expenses in preparation for significantly reduced reimbursements. Meanwhile, government officials and elected representatives continue to grapple with further deficit cuts to balance the national budget; and according to Bloomberg Business Week, gridlock may be the industry’s only protection against further cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other benefit programs – all of which would have a profound effect on health care employees, aging seniors and low-income individuals.
Assisted living facilities are a necessity for many aging seniors who find themselves unable to manage their own health care. But for others, the prospect of living among strangers in an institutionalized group home is frightening and unfamiliar – even in the face of debilitating health conditions, loneliness and burdensome homeowner responsibilities. Alternatives to nursing home living include everything from in-home care to co-housing; but in order to determine the conditions best suited to each individual’s unique health, budget and lifestyle needs, it may be necessary to consult management professionals before establishing a new routine.
Many of the nation’s 76 million baby boomers are by now well versed in the art of parenting; but when it comes to eldercare for their own aging parents, a new national survey suggest that most boomers are woefully unprepared. CBS News reports that, according to industry survey results, a startling number of individuals lack even basic information regarding their parents’ financial and healthcare information – a trend that could leave large portions of the population with heavy economic and emotional burdens in the years to come.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and as-yet incurable condition; yet doctors and scientists are recommending new PET brain scans effective at early detection of the disease as an aid in determining appropriate medical treatment and helping patients plan for the future.