Although caregiving is often viewed as something that occurs as we get into our middle ages (50-65), according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, the distribution of caregiving age is different from what one might expect. The overall average age of a family caregiver is 49.2 years old. 48% of caregivers are 18–49 years old while 34% of caregivers are 65+ years old. Personally, I started my caregiving journey when I was in my early 30’s caring for my Grandfather.
Trends are changing – Baby boomers have lower rates of marriage and fewer children, they also have children at later ages than previous generations which in turn will lead to family caregiving responsibilities being thrust on adult children at younger ages. Nonetheless, currently, it is estimated that baby boomers (i.e., those born between 1946 and 1964) will spend as many years caring for an elderly parent as raising a child. For many women, the roles of primary caregiver for children and primary caregiver of aged parents overlap in occurrence and duration, creating a “sandwich” effect.
With this in mind, it is essential for everyone (no matter what age you are) to become proactive about their future care. No matter how healthy your lifestyle, how good your genetic makeup life can throw you a curve-ball. The question is not if we are going to have to deal with caregiving situations but when.
Many may think it unrealistic to think they can prepare themselves for issues related to caregiving and that it is something to deal with when it comes. However, waiting for the emergency is not the most efficient way to manage potential future care. The more proactive you are in setting up an emergency plan the easier it will be for you and your loved ones to make challenging decisions in the chaos of caregiving. Not being prepared can have consequences for ourselves and our family members.
So what can you do?
There is a lot you can do to become proactive in planning for the unexpected. Check out What if? for ideas that can support a proactive approach to future care needs.
Most importantly – DON’T WAIT! Start creating a plan today or, if you have created a plan in the past (I applaud your proactivity!!), check the plan for any updates that need to be made (i.e.: if the family member designated as your POA got married/divorced and changed their name you will want to make sure that is documented).
For more resources visit: AlongComesGrandpa.com