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April 04, 2012

The Numbers Tell the Tale

Every day I speak to caregivers, each struggling to do the right thing for an elderly parent or grandparent.  Their individual stories are unique, and yet, common themes emerge.  What do I do now? How do I ask this? Where do I find that? Their confusion, often mixed with fear, guilt or plain exhaustion, is heartbreaking.

Fortunately, the Senior Care staff at Care.com is experienced at answering those questions. But still, we wanted to know the scope of the challenge. So Care.com launched a survey of 170 men and women between the ages of 45 and 65. What we learned speaks to the growing need for caregiving resources and caregiver tools.

The key findings include:

  • Nearly 50% of respondents know their aging parents’ preferences for care, but don't know the details on how to proceed
  • Close to 45% of respondents are clued into their aging parents’ behavioral/physical changes and are deeply concerned about their wellbeing
  • Almost half of respondents are tasked with housekeeping, transportation and financial management duties for their aging parents
  • Nearly a third of respondents carry the full load of caregiving responsibilities for their aging parents

I look at those numbers and clearly see a large—and as America ages, growing—population that needs help.  My experience tells me how desperately most adult children want to do the right thing by their elderly loved ones. They want them to be safe, and they want them to be happy.  And they fear that to accomplish one, they must partly sacrifice the other.

I’m happy to say balance can be achieved in most cases, if families are willing to reach out for help.  And, if they’re willing to start planning early. Too often, families wait until a crisis happens—a medical incident, an accident in the house, a public meltdown—to consider their options.  Care.com offers both advice and resources for anyone willing to reach out. Asking for help is the first step.

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