More Elderly Parents Living With Adult Children

There was a very interesting article on MSNBC this weekend. While there is much discussion about the pros and cons of assisted living versus home care, one rarely hears about children who have taken their parents’ care into their homes.  This article adds color to that discussion.

SEATTLE – New census data shows a record number of elderly parents are now living with their adult children. In the past seven years, the number has surged by 62 percent.

Higher housing costs, the economy and the cost of medical care all play a role in the trend. And caring for an elderly parent isn’t easy, especially when you’re trying to hold a job. Forty percent of caregivers who work full time report missing work on a regular basis as they try and meet the needs of an elderly loved one.

“I want her at home,” said Lucille Shaffer, who has suddenly become caregiver to her 84-year-old mother, Maria.

Maria was diagnosed with dementia just a few months ago. That’s when Shaffer insisted her mother come to live with her and her husband.

“I love her,” said Shaffer.

The love is strong, but the transition is difficult. Caring for her mother while holding a full time job is a staggering task.

“I felt just very saddened and burdened because I didn’t feel I could care for mom completely,” said Shaffer.

Eighty percent of caregivers like Shaffer report emotional strain. And more children than ever are caring for their elderly parents at home.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 2.3 million elderly parents were living with their kids in the year 2000. By last year, the number had jumped to 3.6 million.

Suzie Huard is now lending a helping hand. Hired through Senior Helpers, she arrives each day to prepare dinner and keep Maria company.

“I know that I’m giving her daughter a break and that she is safe and well cared for,” said Shaffer.

For Shaffer, Huard is more than a helper. She’s a savior.

“I can take a deep breath because I felt a huge sense of relief,” said Shaffer.

Shaffer wants to share her experiences. She plans on starting a support group for adult children caring for their parents on the first of the year.

  • Bill

    I would like to know how you are paying for this caregiver. Here in Missouri it costs about $17 – $22 per hour. at 4 hours a day that is $68 and for each day of the week that is $476 and for the month that is $1904. Before I lost my job of $45,000 that is half of my pay. At 49 I feel trapped. No time to do anything and no resources to help and where I do go they all say the same thing. Put her in assisted living. Which means sell her home and use all of our inheritance. Basically go broke first, then the State will help. I expect her to leave about 10 more years which means I’ll be taking care of her till I’m 60. Then I’ll have my own health problems. Really bitter and cynical about the whole think. If I was rich it wouldn’t be a problem but I’m not. My life is over.

  • Anika

    @Bill:
    Bill. I pray that you try your very best to look at the time you have with your mother and value that instead of feeling burdened. You didn’t mention children but if you have them; this would be a great time for mom and the kids to spend time togther.
    You mom lived her whole life trying to support you. Can you give her 10-15 years? I’m sure your life isn’t over.

  • Daria

    @Anika
    Unless you have to care for a parent, you'll never know just how much a trap it is. I know how Bill feels. I've been caring for my since I was 13. I'm 25 now. She's getting better, but doesn't want to go back to work. And she thinks I'm going to care for her for the rest of her life. I've nothing left to give, emotionally nor finacially. I love my mom, but because of her, I feel like I have no life.

    So please don't judge people who are caring for their parents. It can drive even the strongest of people to brink of insanity.

  • Ron

    Are there any web sites/internet communities out there (that consists of the elderly living with their adult children), that chat/messageboard with one another on the site?

  • Ryan Malone

    Ron, not that I know of, but I would recommend that you post a message on LinkedIn Questions. You’ll get something back quickly.

  • Stacythebat

    Blow Gently

    – by Sue Alexander Blow gently through my memory

    The things I loved the best.

    My life is not my own no more

    I wish that I could rest.

    My purpose I no longer know

    maybe my jobs done.

    Could it be what I feared most

    time has finally won.

    I grieve for what I once was

    I cant believe the sorrow.

    Oh if I could only wake

    And be at home tomorrow.

    The distant sound of my familys voice

    Is more than I can bare.

    I am alone in this strange place

    Dont they even care?

    Everyday nothing new

    It always seems the same.

    Is it any wonder

    I do not know my name.

    Another day another dawn

    I wait for my release.

    Only when I am with my loved ones

    Will I finally be at peace.

    I dont need much, my time is short

    I only want to visit.

    A familiar face a loving voice

    This isnt to much to ask, is it?

    TheSilent Being

    – by Sue Alexander Copyright 1998 —

    I am a human being

    Though I am old and still.

    Even though I never speak

    Does not mean I cannot feel.

    I am not an empty shell

    My heart still beats within.

    I am simply waiting here

    For my new life to begin.

    We are on this earth

    For his job we must complete.

    When that job is finished

    The Lord and I will meet.

    So dont begrudge me

    My silent stay.

    For I could be you

    On some future day.

  • Ritahumbel

    I would also like to join an internet community consisting of elderly parents living with their adult children. Seems all I see is about how awful it is for the children. How about from the parents point of view?
    Rita in France

  • Anne

    Anika I completely understand your feeling that Bill should be more supportive of his mother and that he should value his time with her. I understand but I do not agree. He is experiencing perfectly normal feelings related to his situation. My parents spent their life caring for me and I am dedicated to caring for my children however my children are healthy and require only the routine “parental care”. I am sure that if either of them were ill or suffered a chronic health condition I would feel much different.
    I hear from many caregivers each day about the stressors and changes their life is undergoing as a result of taking on the task. I empathize with them. I empathize with Bill and his feelings that there is no support out there for them. There is a limited amount of support out there for the caregivers and even if there was they do not have the time to attend.
    I would like to speak more with Bill about his feelings and where he is now with the process.

  • Lrrichards73

    I have to say I am not caring for an elderly parent but I am the mother of 6 children. Taking  care and elderly parent vs. a child is two completely different things. A child (if healthy) is not a hard thing to do but an elderly parent is…well…I don’t think I could do it. My heart goes out to anyone that does…

  • Lrrichards73

    I agree with you Anne most people tend to forget that most children are “healthy” so its not the same as taking care of someone who is not “healthy”. Also children will grow up and eventually leave the nest. Whereas an elderly parent will be with you until they pass on. If children had to live with and be taken care of by their parents for the rest of their lives I don’t think our population would be as large as it is or people would think really heavily before they decided to have children.  Comparing elderly parents to healthy children is like comparing apples to oranges…

  • Third Sister

    I hear you Bill.  I’m in something very close to the same boat.

  • Third Sister

    It may be awful for the parent too, but don’t forget it’s their needs that are driving it.  It’s their needs that are being met by this arrangement - otherwise it woudn’t be happening.  For the parent, it’s probably way better than the alternatives - a nursing home or trying to tough it out alone.  For the adult child, the alternative is freedom and living their own life the way they want.   They are the losers in this equation.

  • RCF

    I think once you are living life ‘just existing’ rather than really living then our time should be up…