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AARP: Caregiving will affect us all

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Caregiving is an issue that will touch all of us, at one time or another, according to Debra Whitman, AARP’s executive vice president for Policy.

“If you aren’’t a family caregiver now, you either have been a caregiver or will be one.” said Whitman.

There is a very gradual generational shift in caregiving responsibilities for Baby Boomers.

They have been - and will continue to be - part of a Sandwich Generation that can be caught in the middle of taking care of children while taking care of their parents.

But, as Baby Boomers continue to age, they more and more will be the ones receiving the care. It will be the children of Baby Boomers - the generations X and Y (the Millennials) who will become the next Sandwich Generation of caregivers.

And, given the sheer number of Baby Boomers (10,000 turn 65 every day of the week), it is becoming a huge issue, one brought to the forefront recently by a new report on military caregivers. Read the RAND report, commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, here.

Elizabeth Dole is a former U.S. senator and wife of the late U.S. senator and decorated World War II veteran Bob Dole.

The report showed that 5.5 million American wives, husbands, siblings, parents and children are caring for ill or wounded service members and veterans, particularly those from the post 9/11 era. These caregivers, according to the report, “cope with stressful situations or other emotional and behavioral challenges” and are themselves at risk for worse health outcomes, greater strains in family relationships, and more workplace problems than non-caregivers,

“To think that so many loved ones have been quietly caring for those who have cared for us with such little support is a wake up call for our nation. Many of these caregivers have been serving in this role for years and even decades, while others will serve for years and decades to come,” she said in a statement.

The report caught the attention of the AARP, with Whitman saying it “can do for family caregiving what the Surgeon General’s report did for smoking: elevate family caregiving issues to the national level meriting attention from individuals, families and policy makers.”She added: “It honors the reality that family caregivers are a silent army serving the nation by caring for loved ones, family by family and friend to friend.”

AARP’s online resource for caregiving is here.

AARP is also looking for feedback on how to improve resources, protections and training for caregivers. The survey is here.

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