Caregiving is becoming the New Normal for
16, 2011--According to a new report, a
growing number of baby boomers are
caregivers and don't realize it.
That's because many think that providing
hands-on help to an aging loved one is just
a regular part of life. However, according
to recent AARP Public Policy Institute
research, this is actually considered a
viable form of caregiving.
For example, if you drive your mom to her
monthly doctor's appointments, or maybe on a
regular basis you help your aging uncle
check his blood sugar levels for
diabetes—all of these activities fall into
the caregiving category.
The "New Normal"
Increasingly, people are providing this type
of daily care to family members, but they
may even provide other complex levels of
care, including tube feedings, bandaging and
wound care, managing catheters, giving
injections or operating medical equipment.
Additionally, spouses or younger family
members who are providing this multifaceted
care are doing so with little to no training
or preparation, an added stressor found in
many at-home caregiving situations.
According to AARP's senior vice president
for Public Policy, SusanReinhard, "Most
caregivers don't think of what they're doing
as work. They think of it as what families
do for each other. They don't think of
themselves as caregivers."
The report found the impact of shorter
hospital stays, limited hospital discharge
planning and the spread of home-based
medical technologies all are reflected in
the complex and physically demanding nursing
tasks that family caregivers are
increasingly carrying out in the home. AARP
defines this new level of care as "the new
Within this so-called "new normal" realm of
caregiving, approximately one in four adults
in the U.S. are taking care of an adult
family member, partner or friend. Also,
since many baby boomers are expected to live
longer, planning for the future has become
Tips For Caregivers
To help boomers and caregivers manage some
of the daily tasks that go along with this
"labor of love," AARP offers some helpful
• First, boomers should not be in denial
about needing some help later in life or
even unexpectedly. With higher rates of
divorce, people who never married, and those
who are childless, older boomers may be
competing for attention from a smaller pool
of extended family and friends.
• Therefore, you should make a plan to
position yourself-be it in your home or
community life-so you can stay active and
involved in the things you love.
• Think about whether where you live now or
where you might like to live would be a good
place if you didn't drive. Ask yourself,
could you get around your house with limited
mobility? Or, would there be people or
services nearby to help if you needed it?
• Finally, be sure to include the cost of
long-term care or other services when
calculating expenses in retirement.
The Need For Self Care
If you are a caregiver, be sure to put your
health first and ahead of all other
priorities. Caregiving, while often
rewarding, is physically and emotionally
demanding work. What's more, you can't care
for someone if you don't take care of
yourself. Be sure to eat nutritious meals,
get enough rest, see your doctor regularly
In addition to self care, be sure to ask for
help. For instance, make a "to-do-list" and
recruit relatives and friends to pitch in.
Furthermore, be sure to use community
resources. Most communities have services
that can help coordinate your loved one's
care and provide help with meals,
housekeeping, grooming or transportation.
Also, you need to get organized. Calendars
can help you prioritize your
responsibilities. What's more, don't be
afraid to just say no. Accept the fact that
you simply can't do everything. Resist the
urge to take on more than you can handle.
Finally, stay positive. Instead of dwelling
on what you can't do, recognize how much of
a contribution you do make.
For more helpful information and details on
the new AARP report, visit