I want to take a minute to recognize the 40 million Americans who perform a great labor of love every day: family caregivers. Thanks to their tireless efforts, parents, spouses, and other loved ones are able to remain at home — where they want to be. Day after day, these unsung heroes take on huge responsibilities that can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting.
Imagine you care for your 90-year-old mother with dementia. She lives with you in your Georgia home. You help her with bathing and dressing, drive her to the doctor, cook her meals, manage her medications and do anything else she needs. Last year you were appointed her legal guardian by the state of Georgia to help manage her finances and make decisions for her about health care and more.
In what the Pew Research Center calls a “return to the past,” a new study found that a growing number of young women are now living at home. About 36 percent of millennial women reside with parents, a number almost equal to the peak in 1940 when statistics were first kept. Unlike the World War II generation, many are college educated and delaying marriage.
As many family caregivers know, getting our parents, spouses or other loved ones from one place to another can sometimes be a challenge, especially if they have impaired mobility. When I was caring for my parents, taking Mom — who was confined to a wheelchair — to see the doctor was an all-day ordeal, even though his office was only a short distance away. We had to wait for the special transport van to come, wait at the doctor’s, and then wait again to get home, all for what was often a five-minute appointment to tweak the dose of a medication.
Weddings, as we observed last week, can ignite bad feelings among family members. Once past the nuptials, the young couple may expect “happily ever after,” yet other issues can bedevil both parents and adult children. One sticking point is what to call an in-law, particularly a mother-in-law. For some reason, male in-laws don’t seem to have this problem.
Debra from New Jersey is on the verge of losing her house to foreclosure because she can’t keep up with paying the bills and helping her mom, who has dementia, remain at home. To keep Mom out of a nursing home, Debra is responsible for taking care of her 24/7. This can be a huge juggling act, involving bathing and dressing, preparing meals, managing medications, coordinating activities and more. Add in full-time employment, and life can become quite complicated, even though Debra hires an aide to stay with Mom while she’s on the job.
In 1993, we celebrated the first Take Your Daughter to Work Day. But have you ever wondered what your kid does in a job that perhaps didn’t exist five years ago? What exactly is a social media manager, a data scientist or even an actuary?
I was in Von’s the other day shopping for cat food and cheap wine when the wild screeching of a toddler pierced the afternoon boredom. It sounded very much like a kid going through the “terrible twos,” perhaps stimulated by a mommy who has had it up to here with him and was beating him with a loaf of sourdough bread.
“You were always Mom’s favorite!” The taunt that siblings hurl at one another apparently turns out to be true. Even with adult children, moms tend to favor one child over the others, and the golden child often remains the same over the years, according to J. Jill Suitor, a sociology professor at Purdue University.
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