Parents care for children, and then children grow up to become parents and care for their own children. That’s the natural order of things—except when it isn’t.
Sometimes parents cannot care well for themselves, and need others to help. This is when children, purely out of love and concern, often begin to care for a parent. Sometimes the caregiving journey is short-lived, because the need for care is temporary—such as when a parent has surgery or goes through treatment to regain health. Sometimes it’s a long journey because the parent has a chronic illness such as dementia, or the after-effects of a stroke. When a child cares for an ailing parent, how is the parent/child relationship affected, and what can the child do to make the journey easier?
Our CaregiverU Program Director, Faith Unger, has a great mantra: “Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint.” All too often, caregivers are thrust into the role of taking care of a family member, with little warning and no training.
According to the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that informal caregivers – typically spouses or adult children – provide 80 percent of the long-term care in the case of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Their 2003 study found that caregivers had a 23 percent higher level of stress hormones and a 15 percent lower level of antibody responses than non-caregivers.
Caregiving also takes a psychological toll. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, the roughly one out of four caregivers who care for a family member for at least 36 hours a week – basically making it a full-time job – are more likely to show signs of depression or anxiety. Relative to peers who don’t provide on-going care, spouses can be depressed or anxious six times more often; adult children suffer these problems twice as often.
May Is Older Americans Month
The month of May represents national “Older Americans Month,” when communities across the country recognize older Americans for their contributions and demonstrate the nation’s commitment to helping them stay healthy and active.
This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, communities are focusing on how older adults are taking charge of their health, engaging in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in July 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible.
While AGE of Central Texas provides programs, education, and resources to older adults and their caregivers year-round, Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to emphasize how senior adults can access the home- and community-based services they need to live independently. We are honored to be a part of the live of the older adults and family caregivers of this community, and to join them on their journey.
What is better than learning how to use a smartphone for the first time?
How about learning to make your mind and body healthier with your device? How about taking a class from your peers? Then catching up with them over a cup of coffee after class?
The marriage between health and technology is becoming stronger every day. With the upcoming reign of wearable tech, the relationship between our digital devices and our bodies will grow. The AGE Computer Lab is here to help our community navigate it. Continue reading
How does someone go about deciding if an Adult Day Care center (ADC) is a good fit for a loved one? There are many factors, but one important consideration is the question of licensing.
We understand that it’s not easy to entrust a loved one’s well-being to strangers. That is why licensing is important to AGE of Central Texas– we want to do everything we can to reassure family caregivers that our Adult Day Health Centers are safe and held to the highest standards.
In Texas, the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) licenses and surveys adult day care facilities to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations to protect individuals who are receiving these long-term care services.
Some of the requirements that licensed adult day care centers follow include: Continue reading
When someone in your family has dementia, or really any other chronic condition, it can affect what holiday time and family gatherings look like. There’s no magic solution, but we hope these tips and reminders might help make this holiday season a bit easier and merry as you balance the holidays as a caregiver.
1. Help your family and friends adjust their expectations
If some time has passed since visiting relatives or friends have seen the person who has dementia, there may have been significant changes in that person’s status since the last time friends or family last saw them. It is often very helpful if you update family, perhaps via a mass email or individual phone calls, on what kind of cognitive changes are going on and what they can expect when they arrive.
These changes can be hard for family members to accept. Remind them that changes in memory and behavior are a result of the disease, not the person. Continue reading
By Diane Walker RN, MS, CSA
Getting a cold or — even worse — the flu is a miserable inconvenience for anyone. For an older adult, the outcome can be worse than a few missed days at work or the inability to enjoy one’s activities, it can be much more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “…90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people 65 years and older.” Older immune systems tend to be weaker which allows the flu to turn into more serious conditions such as bronchitis and / or pneumonia.
While an illness can hit anyone at any time, there are ways to prevent developing a cold or the flu. The best way to treat a cold or flu is to not get it in the first place. Prevention is key. Seniors and their caretakers should keep the following tips in mind to keep an older adult healthy: Continue reading
For the past year, I have had the great honor to serve on the Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Aging. I am very proud to have been part of this effort.
The recommendations from the Task Force include the following focus areas:
- Healthy Living
- Informed Community
We are especially thrilled that under the focus area of ‘independence’, the Task Force specifically highlights the need for critical support and training for family caregivers. One of their recommendations is to expand CaregiverU, a collaboration that AGE is honored to coordinate with the generous support of the St. David’s Foundation. Continue reading
(Guest Post by Caregiving Cafe)
According to Pew Research’s report titled “The Sandwich Generation,” 47% of US adults in their 40’s and 50’s have a parent who is 65 or older and are caring for a child 18 or younger, or are supporting a grown child. Many are providing caregiving as well as financial and emotional support. [Pew Research, January 2013]
With advancing age, the likelihood of an aging parent needing help by the time a child becomes a young adult is rather great. The picture becomes a bit more complex as grown children experiencing hardship (financial or emotional) pull at their parents’ heartstrings (and wallet).
I have had a taste of this dubious “sandwich” while caring long-distance for my mother and raising our daughter. Mine was actually loaded with the “extras,” as I also began to care for my husband when our daughter had just turned 13. He became disabled as a result of CRPS, a painful and debilitating neurological disease. Continue reading
When the medical community and general public first became aware of AIDS in 1981, it would have seemed a far-fetched fantasy that people diagnosed with the disease would have survived 1, 5, or 10 years, nonetheless 30 years.
Now, with patients living longer with advances in medicine and technology, individuals with AIDS or HIV are facing a new challenge: aging. It is well known that AIDS accelerates the aging process. But also, more older adults, aged 50+, are being diagnosed with AIDS for the first time. According to the CDC more than 30 percent of all those with HIV are 50 years old or older, an increase from 26 percent in 2006. Moreover, the CDC predicts that by 2015, more than half of HIV-positive Americans will be over 50.
So, what does this mean for the aging community here in Central Texas? We must become prepared to care for older adults living with AIDS/HIV with the same compassion and dedication as we have with caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s or other medical conditions.
Learn more about a man’s 26 year journey with HIV here: Aging with AIDS: More are living longer, living with loss
Learn more about the 30 year history of AIDS here: 30 Years In, We Are Still Learning From AIDS