The New Year offers us the opportunity to start anew. We make plans to hit the gym, sleep more, and eat healthier. We commit to spending more time with family and friends rather than merely clicking likes and posting comments on Facebook or sending emojis via text. We resolve to save more and stress less. Many of us even create plans with specific strategies to increase the odds we’ll be successful in reaching our goals.
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s also remember that November is National Family Caregivers Month – a time to recognize and express our appreciation for America’s 40 million family caregivers. They are truly the backbone our care system, helping aging parents, spouses, and other relatives and friends manage chronic conditions and disabilities.
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 a college professor, I made a radical decision about a year ago: I banned smartphones and laptops during class. Honestly, I can’t compete with Facebook or an Internet flash sale or texts from friends. My students now take their notes the old-fashioned way with pen on paper. And it turns out that students who take notes by hand learn better.
One morning last June, Colorado mom Patricia Byrne went online to read her Canton, Mass., hometown newspaper. What she read changed her life: an obituary for a 26-year-old young man who was a childhood playmate of her children. The cause of death: heroin overdose.
When I tell people I’m caring for my 91-year-old dad who has Alzheimer’s disease, they look at me sympathetically and say, “I don’t know how you do it.” When they learn that I also cared for my grandmother when she had Alzheimer’s, they gingerly ask, “Are you afraid of getting it yourself?”
The four years (let’s hope no longer) that our adult children are college students are designed to be a time of education and exploration. Often we boomer parents also immerse ourselves in the college experience, perhaps because we are paying part of that annual tab, which can top $60,000 at private universities.
A recent family party celebrated a first-born child heading off to college. As the evening wound down, relatives gathered around the picnic table and offered advice to the college freshman, ranging from “Study hard but have some fun” to “Call your mom occasionally.”
The great college move-in begins this week. Getting the students there is the easy part. Getting the parents to leave — in both mind and spirit — is the challenge. Indeed, though some colleges have show-parents-the-exit programs, many parents still hover from home.
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