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.