Did you know there are 5 million people over 85 in the U.S. today?
And that will double by 2035?
If you have an older loved one, you know what a struggle it can be for them. Simple things that we do without thinking, like walking or grocery shopping, become nearly impossible challenges when your body just doesn't work the way it used to.
It can be heartbreaking when someone we love goes through this.
But who's going to help?
We're all so busy, with careers to build, families to manage, and other commitments, and it's often hard to work out what to do to help an older loved one.
As hard as it can be, adult children who can find the time — and have the right kind of relationship with the older person — may find the experience incredibly fulfilling. With the older person vulnerable in a way she or he never was, new opportunities for a profoundly deep, equal friendship appear. And a refocusing of what's really important makes the good moments so, so good.
In other situations, a professional caregiver can be the answer. Some people are finding professional caregiving to be a deeply rewarding career choice. It allows them to make a real difference in someone's life. And a caregiver/client arrangement can turn into an irreplaceable, life-changing relationship.
If we're lucky enough for our elders to live a long time — and if we're that lucky ourselves — we realize what an important role caregivers of all kinds play.
The pay for professional caregivers, though, is unfairly low.
It's often less than $10 an hour. Pretty shocking considering how vital these people are to so many families. We need to encourage good people to go into this line of work so when our families need them, they're there. And, of course, when a caregiver makes the life of someone you love livable, there just aren't enough thanks in the world.
Three women tell their personal stories about caregiving from three different angles.