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According to recent estimates, at least 34 million Americans provide unpaid care for elderly relatives, typically one or both parents. In 2008, the American Association of Retired Persons noted that they devote an average of 21 hours each week providing care. Millions of other adult children are visiting regularly, often traveling long distances every few weeks, or simply taking Mom or Dad to their physicians.
A USA Today poll reported that 89 percent of the baby boomer generation who provide care for their parents claim that the responsibility is only a "minor sacrifice" or "no sacrifice at all". However, as their parents get older, many boomers are beginning to question if they will be able to continue to provide care for them as health issues, both their parents and their own, mount up.
The AARP has reported that the economic impact of this "free" care was roughly $350 billion in 2006. That is more than the U.S. government spent on Medicare in 2005. It was also larger than the 2006 Federal budget deficit. This economic impact has, naturally, grown even larger in more recent years.
There can also be an acute physical toll on caregivers as well. Caregivers are affected by one or more chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, at approximately twice the average rate of all Americans. Of those who say their health has deteriorated because of their care giving efforts, a stunning 91% report that they suffer from depression.
We have published this guide to present an introduction to numerous services and resources that are available to help caregivers to make informed decisions when faced with elder care issues. Ranging from selecting an assisted living arrangement to coping with the complexities of social security income, this book presents practical tips and solutions to the challenging issues encountered by voluntary elder care providers.
The guide covers a variety of community resources that are offered around the country to help older individuals function independently. Issues addressed include such things as housing options, financial and medical considerations, nursing homes, and home health care agencies. This guide has been published with the hope that, in some small way, it might prove helpful to caregivers facing the difficult physical and emotional challenges that can arise in providing care to the elderly.