Family / Caregiver Issues

Resources to address the challenges facing the family caregiver while providing strategies to assist them.

More Seniors Working as Professional Caregivers

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To accommodate a growing need for professional caregivers, many home care companies are hiring seniors to care for their clients. It’s a win-win situation for all parties. Seniors often enter the profession to supplement their retirement income and come armed with a wealth of experience having already cared for an elderly loved one. Also, seniors can better relate to the needs of their senior clients.

 

Senior service agencies seeing increase of older workers.

Senior service agencies seeing increase of older workers.

Among the overall population of direct-care workers, 29 percent are projected to be 55 or older by 2018, up from 22 percent a decade earlier, according to an analysis by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, or PHI, a New York-based nonprofit advocating for workers caring for the country’s elderly and disabled. In some segments of the workforce, including personal and home care aides, those 55 and older are the largest single age demographic, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press.

“I think people are surprised that this workforce is as old as it is,” Abby Marquand, a researcher at PHI, told the publication. “There’s often people who have chronic disease themselves who have to muster up the energy to perform these really physically taxing caregiving needs.”

The publication cited the example of a 92-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who has a 74-year-old caregiver. According to the article, the caregiver was inspired to join the profession after caring for his elderly mother-in-law who had dementia.

Read the Detroit Free Press article.


Blog Speaks to Baby Boomer Family Caregivers

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Family caregivers navigating the complexities of caring for aging parents can find inspiration, camaraderie, and plenty of enlightening tips through the New York Times blog, The New Old Age, which speaks to baby boomer children who care for elderly loved ones.

family caregivers today

The New Old Age blog addresses the myriad issues facing family caregivers today.

 

An intro to the blog: “Thanks to the marvels of medical science, our parents are living longer than ever before. Adults over age 80 are the fastest growing segment of the population; most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. That burden falls to their baby boomer children. In The New Old Age, Paula Span and other contributors explore this unprecedented intergenerational challenge. You can reach the editors at newoldage@nytimes.com.”

A sampling of the blog’s most popular columns include:

 

 


Program Helps At-Risk Seniors Better Prepare for Health Emergencies

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When older adults are exposed to hypothetical stories about emergency situations, they are more apt to think about what could go wrong and be better prepared.

When older adults are exposed to hypothetical stories about emergency situations, they are more apt to think about what could go wrong and be better prepared.

A researcher at the University of Missouri is using hypothetical scenarios to help educate older adults who live alone in rural areas be better equipped to handle emergencies.

Lawrence Ganong, professor and co-chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at MU,  designed vignettes, or stories, that demonstrated fictitious older adults in emergency situations. Ganong had members of the older adults’ support network (e.g., family members, neighbors or close friends), discuss the hypothetical scenarios with the older adults. He found that older adults who had discussed the stories with their support members created better emergency plans than those who only received emergency planning information from members of their support networks.

“Older adults want to be independent and live at home rather than in nursing homes,” Ganong said. “However, older adults living alone have increased risk of injury during emergencies. Adults living in rural communities are especially at risk because there are fewer healthcare professionals in these areas, less community support and slower ambulance response times.” Read more