While my usual topics are about you aging gracefully, this one will be about gracefully caring for an elderly loved one. David and I both have mothers in their 80s. We’ve discussed this between us:
- Who will care for our mothers? David has 2 brothers to share the responsibility. I am an only child.
- We both live miles away from our mothers. In a medical emergency who locally “on the ground” can assist and, in some cases, be a health care proxy until we arrive?
- What do we need to consider if she falls or becomes injured or ill and is admitted to the hospital?
- What do we really know about the medications and supplements she is taking and if she is taking them properly and with the foods?
- How do we manage our day-to-day lives while caring for a parent?
- Do we know know her end-of-life care wishes (My mother and I have had the talk. Not sure about David and his Mom.)
Are you caring for an elderly loved one? If so, you are not alone. If not, welcome to your future. Your parents spend at least twenty years of their lives caring for you until you become a responsible and financially independent adult (hopefully). But in the last, say, 20 or so years of their lives, the roles may reverse. You may be responsible for caring your parent.
According to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, four in 10 U.S. adults are now caring for a sick or elderly family member as more people develop chronic illnesses and the population ages.
A few more stats from this study:
- Nearly half (46%) of family caregivers reported performing such medical/nursing tasks, three-quarters of those said their tasks included giving injections, administering intravenous fluids or otherwise managing medications.
- 36% of U.S. adults said they provided unpaid care to an adult relative or friend in the past year, up from 27% in 2010.
- 47% of adult women and 37% of adult men are caregivers.
- 39% of caregivers saying they managed medications.
Caring for your loved one can become a full or part time, unpaid job. It is important to be informed about the medications (s)he is taking, side effects, physical and mental limitations, insurance and seniors’ rights. Then there is the delicate end-of-life discussion.
Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, President of The John A Hartford Foundation, is my guest February 29, 4pmEST, on Fearless Fabulous You! (W4WN.com). We’ll discuss some of the most common health concerns for seniors, what you need to know about caring for a loved one, from managing medications to hospital stays, and how to address end-of-life plans.
Dr. Fulmer is a tireless advocate for improving the care of older adults and has held distinguished leadership positions in prestigious institutions, including Northeastern University, New York University (NYU) College of Nursing and Columbia University. She has held endowed chairs at Columbia University and NYU, and is an elected member of the National Academies of Medicine, where she currently chairs the Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence.
Click here for more resources on eldercare.
This show will be podcast permanently to my station on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.(Click Shows & Personalities/FearlessFabulousYou/Episodes/Terry Fulmer)