As a Tucson, Arizona elder law firm, we are focused on matters that are of interest to senior citizens. There is a very significant demographic shift underway at the present time, and it is having an impact on countless families. During the years immediately following World War II, an unprecedented number of babies were born. This phenomenon has come to be known as the “baby boom,” and these folks have been dubbed the “baby boomers.”
The baby boom years were 1946 to 1964, so many of these individuals are now senior citizens, and others are getting very close. According to the Social Security Administration, about 10,000 people are applying for their benefits every day. This volume is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, so elder law attorneys are going to be providing a lot of guidance over the coming years.
There are a number of different matters that seniors and those who are planning ahead for their golden years should address, but there is one that stands above all the rest. The United States Department of Health and Human Services tells us that 70 percent of seniors will need living assistance at some point in time. Some will require full-time residence in an assisted living facility of some kind, and others will be able to get the care that they need at home.
In-home care is going to be the preferred choice for many people for a couple of different reasons. For one, nursing homes and assisted living communities are extremely expensive, and Medicare does not pay for long term care. The other one is the simple fact that most seniors are comfortable in their homes, and they don’t want to move into unfamiliar surroundings.
Family members often step up to the plate to provide in-home care for their aging parents. Some family caregivers have grown children or no children at all, so they do not have to simultaneously provide care for an aging parent and their dependent child or children. However, there are increasing numbers of people that are forced to juggle these responsibilities. The caregivers that are part of this group are members of what is being called the “sandwich generation.”
Even if your only primary responsibility is to provide care for a parent, it can be very challenging to be thrust into this position, even if you are totally willing. We have a lot of direct experience counseling caregivers, and we have done a good bit of research as well. Let’s look at a few rules of thumb that can provide some structure for you as you embark on your journey as a family caregiver.
Do Your Research
Clearly, you are going to get certain advice from your parent’s doctor or doctors, and you should also gain a personal understanding of the underlying conditions that are causing the challenges. And speaking of physicians, they are not allowed to release medical information to others, even family members, under the HIPPA Privacy Rule. However, an authorization form can be signed, and this is something that should be done while your parent is fully capable of making sound decisions.
Seek Knowledge and Support From Other Caregivers
As they say, experience is the best teacher. If you know people that have provided care for aging family members, you should certainly learn what you can from them. Plus, there are support groups, both online and in person, that you can participate in to communicate with other people that are going through the same things that you are.
Don’t Overdo It
It is important to make sure that you understand your personal limits, because there is only so much that one person can handle. This is true on the physical level and the emotional level. When we say that you shouldn’t overdo it, there is another facet. Your parent may need a certain degree of help, but you should certainly encourage as much independence as possible, because activity is a very positive thing.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
When you love someone, you are providing care because you sincerely want to help for all the right reasons. At the same time, a lot of feelings can come to the surface, and there can be internal conflicts.
You may feel as though you are not paying enough attention to other family members (this is common among members of the sandwich generation), and this can make you feel guilty. At times, you may get angry, and you may feel a sense of resentment. These are all natural emotions, and you should not be afraid to talk about them with people that you are comfortable confiding in.
Outside Assistance Is Available
If the tasks become too overwhelming, even if you enlist help from other family members, our firm may be able to help you qualify for participation in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. This would facilitate government subsidized in-home care provided by a professional aide. To learn more about it, you can give us a call at 520-529-4000, and you can alternately reach out through our contact page.