Elder Care Is Everybody's Business
Byline: Cecelia Sanders
Americans are growing older. A few statistics:
- 34.5 million (12.7 percent) are age 65 and older, and by 2030, that number will increase to 70 million (20 percent).
- By the year 2011, those in the Baby Boom generation will begin to turn age 65.
- For those born in 1997, age expectancy increased to age 76. Just 97 years before that, age expectancy was only 49 years.
- People are living well into their 90s, and hundreds of Americans each day reach their 100th birthday.
Although medical science has also improved to allow people to live healthier while they live longer, it is a simple fact of life that as we age, we have more problems.
Some of them may be somewhat troublesome, but still relatively minor (reduced vision and hearing - both of which can be handled by glasses or hearing aids, for example).
Others can be major, including arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, heart attack and stroke.
Aging is a process. Some problems can be prevented by watching what you eat, exercising more, taking vitamin supplements and getting good medical care at the first sign of illness.
Other ailments can be treated, with surgery, medication and therapy. But some conditions are serious enough to require long- term care, whether in the home, in assisted living housing, or in a nursing facility.
Because people are living longer, elder care, or caring for an older relative, whether that is a parent or grandparent, is becoming an important factor in the lives of many Americans.
Many of these caregivers are still employed and still caring for their own children. The cost to employers is high - elder-care givers often need to reduce work hours. Some miss work, come in late or leave early.
It has been estimated that 54 million Americans provide care for an older person, who may be immediate family, in-laws, aunts or uncles, or even an elderly friend. …