In 2011 the first of the baby boomer generation reached retirement age of 65. This milestone has received a lot attention – but the impact that this transition is and will continue to have on caregivers is just now coming into focus. A recent CNN article reviews the impact that this rapidly growing aging population will have on caregivers.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging found that by 2030, the amount of Americans approaching retirement age will practically double. The number of caregivers is sure to rise dramatically as nearly 72 million adults enter retirement.
Adult children are making the inevitable transition into caregivers of their elderly parents. The burden of caregiving can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming. In fact, a survey by the American Psychological Association found that “55% of caregivers reported feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand.”
In another recent survey, it was found that “Americans caring for aging and chronically ill relatives reported higher levels of stress, poorer health and a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors to alleviate stress than the population at large.”
Many caregivers devote themselves to their loved ones and end up neglecting themselves as a result. “It’s easy to neglect yourself when you try to be all things to everyone else, but something has to give and it catches up with you,” said caregiver and psychologist Fran Walfish.
Caregivers are often reluctant to ask for help because doing so means admitting that they aren’t able to handle it all on their own. “People feel a lot of pressure, especially in this economy, to not complain or set limits for themselves,” said Walfish. But not asking for help can lead to physical or psychological reactions including heart attack and depression.
Now, more than ever, caregivers need services, such as technology automation, better communication, and support that will allow them to take care of themselves as well as their loved ones.