By Kevin Smith
The holidays always present an opportunity to check in on how well ‘the folks’ are doing (or not doing). Has their vision deteriorated? Has it become difficult for them to navigate their home or apartment without help? Have they become forgetful, confused, angry or depressed?
When adult children living out-of-state arrive for Thanksgiving and notice that mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, uncle or aunt are having difficulty managing things that seemed easy just a year ago, they are often surprised and shocked.
For the children (or friends and neighbors) who live nearby and care for a loved one daily or visit them weekly, changes in their seniors physical or mental health may seem subtle and gradual but are no less concerning.
Taking care of an elder in the home is a full time job, yet it’s a position willingly and lovingly accepted by an estimated 40 million Americans.
Of our nation’s family caregivers:
- 6% of Americans provide unpaid care to an adult
- 7% of caregivers live more than two hours from the person they help
- One-quarter of care recipients have problems with memory
- 40% of caregivers are men
- 56% of caregivers work full time
- 2 million Americans are caring for their own adult children
- 13% of caregivers are assisting a friend or neighbor
As AARP Family Caregiving Advisory panel member Barry Jacobs writes, being a family caregiver is a marathon, not a sprint. And when you’re running a marathon, you need patience, humor, love and outside support.
This past July, AARP sent photographers and videographers to homes across the nation to document what the day in the life of a family caregiver means to both caregiver and care recipient.
Watch and be moved.