A Trio of Care Scenarios

Article excerpt

Scenario One. In their 40s and on through their 60s, most women will deal with an older mother, father or in-law who becomes frail and needs assistance. They must decide whether to bring care into the family member's residence, invite them into their own homes or encourage them to seek a special housing-care arrangement, such as an independent (congregate) living apartment, assisted living arrangement or a nursing home. Typically, moving is not the first choice and women may spend hundreds of hours yearly caring for family members. These caregiving responsibilities are more challenging when there are younger children - or even grandchildren - living in the household. This situation is on the rise as people marry and have a family later in life and as people are living longer.

Scenario Two. When women are in their 70s and 80s, their typically older husbands experience physical or cognitive declines. Wives who assume these helping responsibilities (at an average age of 73 years) may be restricted by their own chronic health problems and debilitating declines. Even if a husband opts to occupy a special purpose housing-care arrangement, a caregiver wife still may feel compelled to function as a proactive advocate and vigilant overseer of their spouse's care. …