As Americans live longer, more of them will face having to care for an elderly or ill parent, but most aren't prepared for that moment. A More magazine survey of 750 adult Americans about their attitudes on elder care found that 81 percent of American adults want to help care for their parents, but just 26 percent have a plan.
And it's usually not love that drives people to take on the responsibility. The survey found that almost half of respondents do it out of duty, compared to 26 percent who do it out of love. About 11 percent felt it was a moral obligation.
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The survey also found that men are more optimistic about eldercare than women are. "The reason men have a more positive attitude is that a lot of them take a can-do approach to family life," noted Lisa Gwyther, director of the Family Support Program at Duke University Center for the Study of Aging. "They view it as 'This is a problem to be solved; I can fix this.' Women may be more aware of grief, sadness and loss, as well as how the burden of eldercare is affecting them."
Many experts also feel there could be a "perception vs. reality" gap. They note that women still do the bulk of the work. As More reported, women tend to "assume an emotional, nurturing role and handle personal tasks such as bathing, while men take on more practical chores, like handling finances or house repairs."
Do we owe it to our parents to care for them as they age? How do you set limits? Our guests will offer advice to help you plan for elder care.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CARING FOR YOUR PARENTS:
• How to Care for Your Parent Without Losing Your Job
As President Barack Obama's 2013 budget noted: "Too many American workers must make the painful choice between the care of their families and the paycheck they desperately need." (Next Avenue)
• What Do We Owe a Dying Parent?
I didn't want to take care of my mother. But I knew I would. I'd join 65 million other Americans — almost 30 percent of the U.S. population — who care for an ill, disabled, or aging friend or family member... Some caregivers want to reciprocate the care they themselves received as children. But what do we owe a self-centered parent who never really took care of us? (Psychology Today)
• Why Baby Boomers Are Facing A Caregiver Shortage
Today, according to estimates by AARP, there are about 7 people aged 45-64 to care for each person who is 80 or older. By 2030 there will be only 4 and by 2050 there will be fewer than 3. (Forbes)
• Caregiving for an Aging Parent From Afar: Six Ways to Help
The National Institute on Aging estimates that there may be as many as seven million people providing long-distance care in the United States. Caregiving for aging parents from afar is complicated. In addition to the emotional aspects that come with the aging process and deteriorating health of a loved one, the financial aspects can also be complex. If you are living far from your elderly parent and he or she is in decline, what can you do to make it easier financially for you and your family? (Time)
• Daughters (Still) Are the Caregivers
We've known for a long time that despite decades of social change, elder care remains largely a female task. Most studies find that women account for about two-thirds of caregivers. We know it can be a very tough job. But there's a lot about how certain women wind up becoming caregivers that we don't know. "There's all this research on the effects of caregiving on people and virtually nothing about who is the one who winds up doing it," said Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University. "Why does Jane become the caregiver when Billy and Betty don't?" (New York Times)
• 17 Essential Books for Family Caregivers
Whether you seek inspiration, advice or a few laughs, there's something for you among our expert's picks. (Next Avenue)