Why Elder Care Should Concern the Baby Boomers
With the presidential election looming, issues such as assistance for elder care, the costs of assisted living and prescription medication costs for seniors are hot topics. Maybe they were in the last election as well but I wouldn’t know. That wasn’t a part of my life. In fact, during the last election, my life was in a completely different place. I was married with my youngest child still a toddler and my eldest not even a teenager at age nine. At that time my biggest political concerns were based upon education, particularly the support of special needs. Elder care was not a thought.
And now, here I am, divorced with children who are growing up before my eyes in addition to aging parents. It’s amazing how life can change in a matter of four years. During the last election, Alzheimer’s was not a present factor in my life like it is today. I didn’t find myself worrying about caring for my parents, where they would live, how they would get around, and who would provide the care and assistance that their declining health requires. As this election draws closer, I find myself extremely concerned with elder care as this is a matter that relates directly to my aging parents.
The Huffington Post reports that, “roughly 40 million Americans provide unpaid care to one or more people at least 65 years old”. Many caregivers are faced with the question of whether or not to place their loved one in an assisted living facility or, even worse, a nursing home. Besides being extremely costly, they are depicted as incredibly gloomy and depressing. In his Washington Post blog, Martin Bayne describes the heartbreak and hardship he experiences living in assisted living. He illustrates the fact that he has been subjected to watching those around him “waste away” until they reach death, followed by another friend beginning to “waste away” until they die, too. It is these types of stories that make us thing, are assisted living facilities a home or merely a place where the elderly go to await death? Is that the kind of place I want to send someone I love?
Given the frightening statistics on those who require elder care, along with my worries about my own parents, it’s not surprising that undecided voters who are responsible for caring for an aging loved one are looking for policies and positions in support of elder care from the presidential candidates. I, along with 40 million other Americans, am one of the middle aged people who struggles with the question of how to care for my elderly parents as their health declines.
Just this week, in a matter of hours, my life turned around. My father had a stroke. Coupled with his existing Alzheimer’s and other issues, it is clear he will not be able to return to his own home. The immediate assessment from his case manager was that he needs to be placed in a nursing home. My cousin, a nurse, has already said that putting him in a nursing home would surely cause him to decline more rapidly. Until I became CEO of PALS Built, I didn’t realize there was an alternative solution to elder care.
As the number of elders requiring care and assistance rises, assisted living structures that can be attached to a caregiver’s home are becoming more prevalent. Although it may seem like it at times, you don’t need to opt for assisted living or a nursing home and can prevent your loved ones from watching others waste away, wondering, “Am I next?”