With how fast the field of medicine is evolving, more and more Americans are living longer, and as I hope, aging gracefully. For those of us baby boomers who are still lucky enough to have our parents around, the chances of us having to care for them as we age increases.
According to a study conducted by AARP, the average caregiver in 2009 was a 49-year-old woman who had a job outside the home and spent nearly 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother. While some families have the finances secured to pay for retirement or medical care as they age, others may have a variety of reasons to elect to live with their adult children. With nearly 10,000 baby boomers reaching 65 each day, they may find themselves becoming a caregiver to a parent while eventually needing care as well.
Here are some common reasons parents are moving in with their children:
- Financial resources to pay for a retirement or assisted living facility are limited or non-existent
- Lack of available facilities – rural vs. urban communities
- Hesitation by the parent to commit to living anywhere but home (and this also may be felt by the adult child)
- Feeling of obligation by the adult child to become a caregiver to the parent
Depending on your current family dynamic, living with parents a second time around may work just fine or it could create new adjustments for everyone involved. For example, I have many patients who currently live with their adult child due to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory disorders. In other cases, it has nothing to do with a specific medical condition, but more of a parent and adult child choosing to blend the family into a single household.
Within my practice, it has become more common than not to see adult children accompanying their aging parents as part of their “new normal” of becoming more involved with mom or dad. Whether they’re simply driving a parent to their doctor appointments, managing their medication, or wishing to be more involved in their day-to-day care, baby boomers are seeing their roles change rapidly.
Aging is a natural and beautiful part of life. Even while many are seeking to turn back the clock or find ways to slow down the process, we need to accept and embrace it. Family physicians are a great resource for those already thinking about who will care for mom or dad even if the parents are still active and always on-the-go or if the parents are needing specialized care. Take the time to talk your parents and find out if they have a plan in place. If not, make a plan together, and most importantly, be honest and proactive.
To a long and healthy life!