Millions of baby boomers are now caregivers to their elderly parents. Today, many seniors struggle with tight finances, high medical bills, mobility and health challenges and even dementia as they grapple with daily decisions and activities. As a generation, senior citizens are living longer and many require elder care assistance. The welfare of elderly parents often falls to their baby boomer children, who are becoming their caregivers.
According to MetLife.com, 10 million baby boomers age 50+ now care for their elderly parents. The number of boomers “providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled in the last 15 years.”
In many cases, the elderly parent moves into the boomer household, but in others, the parent remains at home and the boomer visits daily to provide care and support. Either way, baby boomer caregivers carry a heavy load of responsibility which plays havoc on their own lives and schedules.
Baby boomer caregiver responsibilities include:
- paying their parent’s bills;
- running errands;
- chauffeuring their parents to appointments;
- picking up their groceries and prescriptions; and
- handling their parent’s health care needs.
In some cases, boomer caregivers must make all of the day-to-day decisions for their parents. Many take over the finances, assume responsibility for all major decisions, handle a mountain of paperwork and deal with complicated health care forms, virtually running a second household.
The caregiver role is taking a toll on baby boomers, physically, mentally, financially, emotionally and professionally, in terms of their careers. It adversely affects their health, consumes their time and reduces their freedom to be with friends and other family members.
Boomer caregivers also have a tendency to ignore their own health issues while caring for their parents. In many cases, the caregiver’s health grows worse over time and many suffer from depression. While the majority of baby boomers who are caregivers feel appreciated for providing elder care, Seniorliving.com found most feel stressed, exhausted and helpless.
Caregiving also comes with sacrifices. Baby boomer caregivers are often forced to give up vacations, hobbies, volunteering, community involvement and socializing with their friends. Boomers take a substantial financial hit too, especially when the parent moves in with them.
On the brighter side, caregiving enables baby boomers to spend more quality time with their parent, reminiscing about the past, learning more about their family history and hearing stories of their parent’s life.
While caregiving takes its toll on baby boomers, it also gives them a unique opportunity to spend time with their parents, something they will treasure in the future when all they have left are memories.