For those of us born during the post World War II period between the years of 1946 and 1964, we fall into the generational category referred to as ‘Baby Boomers’, whose parents were mostly from the GI and Silent Generations. After the end of the war, there was a population boom due to spiked childbirths, hence the phrase ‘Baby Boomer’. A myriad of circumstances arose out this growth and expansion. As we grew and came of age, our parents and grandparents advanced into their senior time of life. The portrait of family and home life is ever changing, or at least from my point of view and where I stand in life as a Baby Boomer. What I previously referred to as the average American family included mom, dad, a few kids, a dog or cat, experienced a shift from that description, or perhaps I just grew up and learned that the word ‘family’ is not defined the same by every person.
For longer than I care to admit, family has been for me, the divorced middle-aged woman and Baby Boomer that I am, mother of two adult children, grandmother and caregiver to two precious under aged grandchildren when my child was on yet another military deployment, under employed, caregiver to my mother, and caregiver to my paralyzed sibling who passed over this summer. In retrospect of those dozen or more years that quietly moved beyond me, I have given a great deal of focus and meditation on getting back to where I was 15 years ago.
However, that is futile for there is no going back, especially at this age, so I move on and strive for development more progressively. This study has significance because of the overwhelming responsibility involved as a caregiver and the unknowns and unexpected challenges to the unassuming. It is not until the unfamiliar person confirms to accept the role that so very many factors arise that can truly create what seems disastrous. Researching books, magazines, and articles, especially dedicated to the health, needs, and welfare of the aging will expectantly provide valuable material for this brief study. Although every situation is unique, and I am not a licensed therapist, counselor, or social worker, perhaps this information will be advantageous to someone confronted with similar decisions of eldercare.
KEYWORDS Operational definitions by Merriam-Webster dictionary online:
For those of us born during the post World War II period between the years of 1946 and 1964, we fall into the generational category referred to as ‘Baby Boomers’, whose parents were mostly from the GI and Silent Generations. After the end of the war, there was a population boom due to spiked childbirths, hence the phrase ‘Baby Boomer’. A myriad of circumstances arose out this growth and expansion. The world developed and progressed in this age of modern technological and medical advances, with new discoveries always on the horizon. Due to such wonderful advances have also come the increase in the overall quality of life expectancy, one of several contributors to the changing structure of the family. As we grew in development and progressiveness, and came of age, our parents and grandparents advanced into their senior time of life. This is extremely remarkable in numerous capacities compared to just 25-30 short years ago when the prognosis of certain illnesses would be short-lived. My family has benefited in this area a countless number of times, and even now. In fact, I feel especially blessed that my mother is still with us, and stretching to reach the age of 88 right alongside managed, but chronic health conditions. Nevertheless, it is because of those conditions that plague her quality of life that I have willingly become her caregiver. This bittersweet journey led me to an unfamiliar place, sometimes uncomfortable and filled with questions. After casual conversations with other employees in the workplace, strangers in the hospital waiting rooms and nursing or convalescent centers, it became more apparent that there are many Baby Boomers caring for family or someone else in the capacity of elder care and that we share multiple similarities. During this study, my objective is to answer the following research questions.
What is a caregiver and are there a qualification required to provide eldercare? Have there any prevailing hindrances or dilemmas encountered in caregiving? Where do you find information and support? What advice or what was learned throughout this study? What is a caregiver and are there a qualification required to provide eldercare? When I realized that my role had become that for my mother, a sibling, and aunt as caregiver, I tossed the dilution of thinking it was only temporary. Assisted living care is exactly that, assisting a person(s) with their daily needs, full circle.
In my search with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, formerly DADS, I did succeed in obtaining certification to manage and operate an assisted living facility or operate my own assisted living quarters. Although certification was not a requirement to manage assisted living care for my mother, siblings, relatives, or anyone else for that matter, I did discover the benefit to anyone in that position by relieving the surmounting daily routine responsibilities. Have there any prevailing hindrances or dilemmas encountered in caregiving? Caregiving to your parents or loved ones can be very rewarding in various capacities. Knowing that elderly parents are surrounded by loving family and that their needs are being met on a consistent basis is priceless.
On the other end of the spectrum, the commitment required is incredibly demanding and can result in caregiver burnout. Depending on the level of care required, you could very easily find yourself locked into responsibilities that require you to delay or cancel your career goals or even place your own health at risk that may not be recoverable. Where do you find information and support? There is a plethora of information available and I would suggest exploring more than one source. Make a checklist of the agencies or places of contacts along with any questions you may have in order to reach the best comparison according to your needs.
Places to begin the quest for information include, but are not limited to the following: Social services at the county and local hospitals The Public Library Internet (world wide web) Social Security Administration State of Texas Health and Human Services Health and Human Services in the state of residence National Institutes of Health (NIH) AARP published an article in the August 2013 edition entitled, You Take Care of Mom, But Who Will Take Care of You?, that shines a glaring light on the Boomers and our future needs for someone to care for us. In June of 2015, the United States Census Bureau reported that at that time, there were 74.5 million Baby Boomers according to their estimates. The overwhelming message to us Boomers, is that in the process of delivering and providing quality care for our loved ones, we must make provisions for our own long-term care. That time comes sooner than we think and it is too late to plan once the need arises, unless financial resources are abundant. Lastly, too often we become debilitated in caring for others and forget to take inventory and measurements to improve our own quality of life. What valuable advice was attained throughout this study? Before I began this study on Baby Boomers becoming caregivers to their parents or to other family members, it was my estimation formed from casual strangers met while we both were in the family room of hospitals waiting for someone from medical staff to present us with the status of the surgery or some critical procedure of our loved one. Similar encounters occurred on the premises of my workplace through various people with whom I became acquainted to include medical personnel, and secretly to a coworker here and there. From the research materials (books, articles, magazines, and discussions) there are many Boomers engaged in caregiving of parents, other family members, and even their children in some situations.
At the same time, there are state and private agencies available to provide care across the spectrum for almost every condition. However, one issue begets another in that many state managed programs are contingent upon very stringent qualifications. Although private agencies also conduct affairs under standard regulations by the state, they have greater flexibility in operations and management, but services retained require private pay or out of pocket. One of the best pieces of advice I found consistent throughout is to avoid burnout. In the book, What to Do When Mom Moves In, the author, Betty Kuhn, warns against caregiver burnout and reminds the reader that it sneaks up on you a little at a time. The days, months, and years along with opportunities disappear very quickly. Another resounding theme from the material was, take time for your needs whether it is an overnight trip, a half-day at the spa, or taking in a movie. So much of what I read and reviewed for this research has been refreshing and informative in many areas that would have been extremely advantageous to me at the beginning of my journey for this role in life as a caregiver that I never saw coming.
At the same time, this same refreshing material exposed the core of my inner struggles in realizing my own life was placed on hold and delayed from my own aspirations, which until now, was unrevealed. It was such an overwhelming direct confrontation, of which I was unprepared, nor did I expect, until multiple times throughout this course, I broke into heavy, ugly tears, forcing me to stop in order to regain composure to keep moving forward. Although this is not a complaint, this study has most definitely been a wake-up call as a caregiver, not only to my Mother, but to other family members as well. Caregivers do not have to suffer the rollercoaster of guilt when you cannot help your loved one to heal or recover from terminal illness, depression, anger, exhaustion, needing help, finding resources, fatigue, needing to take advantage of respite care, or whatever causes you stress. My desire was to share some of my dilemmas and to provide informative data or facts to any in a similar or future situation as a resource of hope and support.
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