More Millennials Providing Care For Senior Family Members
An increasing number of young adults are taking on caregiving responsibilities for aging family members, a recent study has found. For many millennials, attempting to balance the competing demands of work, family and caregiving create significant stress.
What are the reasons behind the growing trend, and what steps can caregivers take to ease the burden?
Increasing needs, decreasing ages for care recipients
One reason behind the increased number of millennials providing care is the decreasing age of the care recipients, experts note. Just a decade ago, more than half of individuals needing care were over the age of 75, but that age now has dropped to an average of 66. An increase in chronic diseases, along with earlier diagnosis of progressive conditions like Alzheimer’s, may be behind the lower age of those seeking care.
In addition, the baby boomers — who have begun reaching retirement age — are less likely to be married and more likely to live alone at older ages than were past generations. With the sheer size of the baby boomer generation, a growing number of aging individuals will need assistance in the coming years, often from their adult children.
Coping with caregiver stress and burnout
More than half of caregivers report experiencing significant stress, while more than a third feel resentful and depressed, research has found. In addition to the usual responsibilities of family, home and work, caregivers often face seemingly insurmountable challenges, including being available at all hours.
Caregiving also can impact the financial and professional status of individuals providing care, with many reporting frequently missing work and using their own funds to help care recipients. Along with continual responsibilities such as managing medications and medical appointments, personal burdens can add up for caregivers.
If you serve as a caregiver to an aging family member and you’re feeling the stress of competing demands, what are some actions you can take to restore balance to your life?
Create a plan
If your loved one has a chronic illness that will cause health to continue to deteriorate, a plan for the future is critical. A living will or advance care directive can help with future decisions regarding long-term care.
Check with your employer
Some companies offer paid caregiver leave and other benefits. In addition, your employer may be willing to work with you on a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home some of the time as you attend to caregiving duties.
ASK FOR HELP.
Don’t be afraid to ask siblings, other family members and even family friends to lend a hand occasionally. Those close to you may be willing to help but simply may not know what they can do to take on some of your responsibilities.
Consider supportive living
A senior living community that offers services such as rehabilitative care can provide you a respite from your caregiving duties. As you attend to the other important tasks in your life, you can feel confident that your family member is receiving attentive, compassionate care from skilled professionals.
Young adults often must meet competing demands as they attend to childcare, their homes and professional concerns, and caring for an aging relative can add to the burden. By spending some time planning, asking for help when you need it, using rehabilitative care, and working with your employer, you can reduce your stress levels — and spend some time on yourself.