Archive | February 2012

Caring for the Elderly

It has been estimated that in the next three decades the number of seniors 65 years and older will have quadrupled. The first baby boomers turned 65 years old in 2011 and in the next 30 years the youngest baby boomers will all be over 65 years old. There will be over 54 million Americans aged 65 or older In the United States alone (Cox, 2011). Not only will the elderly form a great part of the population, but this also means that the elders are living more, with their life expectancy increasing. Families now have fewer members in the new generations but with more generations alive (Cox, 2011). With the senior population growing we need to think about providing care to them since many of us will do that someday. 

 The elderly play a great role in our lives and in our families and vice versa. I can say this for sure, having a 100 year old great grandmother and my two wonderful grandmothers ages 77 and 85 (whom I love so much). My grandmothers still try to be independent but they really need help. I believe that families are the best care providers for the elderly. My 85 year old grandmother takes care of her mother, my 100 year old great grandmother, but she needs to be cared for too because of health issues. Moreover, my 77 year old grandmother lived in a small farm outside the city but now she has moved to an aunt’s house since she didn’t have anyone to live with her at the farm and she suffered an accident when she was living alone. These stories are repeated thousands of times.

It has been found that nearly 82 percent of family members provide some type of care for their elders (UCSF). The primary care is provided by their spouse or children (mostly daughters) as well as other relatives and/or friends. Both my grandmothers are widows so their care is provided by their children and grandchildren. It is more common to see women providing the primary care for the elders (wives, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, daughters in law, etc). They provide their personal care, baths, help them get dressed, cook, go with them to their doctors’ appointments and give them medicine plus more. Men provide help by driving them to their destinations and with home repairs and heavy jobs. Children and pets are also in the picture, they provide company to the elderly and happiness.

There are so many advantages in caring for the elderly. First, if the elders live with someone at home they feel less lonely and their depression rates are lower. Second, when elders are sick or suffer accidents they get help faster than if they were alone. Falls are common in the elderly, for example, when these accidents cause fractured or broken bones the elders aren’t able to get up to call for help so if someone is caring for them the outcome is better and death is less likely to occur. In the US about one third of seniors age 65 or older fall each year (Centre for Disease Control, 2011), or suffer other accidents like burns and traumas. They definitely need help, and being cared for will contribute to a better quality of life.

Unfortunately not all the elderly have family or friends to provide care for them. Some elders have secondary care providers part-time or full-time. When the elders don’t have family to take care of them, there are other options. These include; nurses that provide care at the elders’ homes, nursing homes, group living facilities, and other institutions for the elder.  It has been observed that fewer seniors are now living in long term care facilities because more families and friends are now taking this role. Today, less than five percent of the elderly are living in institutions (US Census, 2010). Caring for the elderly is not easy and it is expensive but it is worth it. We don’t all have the necessary resources but there is help out there and options for our elders to have the care that they deserve. To conclude, it is good to remember that one day we will age and we will need some care too.  

Resources

 Centre for Disease Control. (2011, September 16). Falls among older adults: An overview. Retrieved from   http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Cox, H. (2011). Annual editions: Aging 11/12. (24th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw   
 Hill/Dushkin.

University of california, san francisco, human resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ucsfhr.ucsf.edu/index.php/assist/article/elderly-caregiving-choices-challenges-and-resources-for-the-family/

US Census (2010). Retrieved from website: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb10-ff06.html

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