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Year of the Caregiver, Population Grows

The U.S. Administration on Aging declares 2011 as “The Year of the Caregiver”—here are facts about the nation’s growing aging population, caregivers, as well as how to cruise away worries.

Editor's Note: Barbara Meltzer writes a column called for sister site West Hollywood Patch. She wanted to share news of a South Bay contest for caregivers with Hermosa Beach residents.

It often starts with "the call."

Mom has fallen and broken her hip. Or, Dad went out for a walk and was found wandering in the neighborhood. 

From that moment on, a son or daughter’s role in a parent’s life can turn into that of a "caregiver." 

Caregiving refers to the help and support family members and friends provide daily to individuals who are either temporarily or permanently unable to function independently.

The nature of the support or help may include a wide range of activities such as assisting with personal hygiene, helping with medication and doctor’s visits, managing finances, acting as a patient advocate, or providing emotional support. 

These caregivers are often not paid for their efforts or trained for the tasks that they perform.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Family Caregiver Support Program, the U.S. Administration on Aging has proclaimed 2011 as "The Year of the Caregiver" to celebrate the role of family caregivers as well as raise awareness of the burgeoning number of men and women who dedicate their lives to caring for elder loved ones.

Nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 are caring for their aging parents, according to a recent National Alliance for Caregiving study.

The study also reveals that the percentage of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years. 

Now a quarter of adult children—mainly Baby Boomers—provide care to a parent.

Most are employed and the total amount of lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these caregivers is estimated at nearly $3 trillion, according to MetLife, which analyzed data from the 2008 panel of the National Health and Retirement Study.

But compared to a generation ago, there are more resources to help family caregivers.

The nation’s growing aging population and resultant increase in the number of family caregivers has placed ongoing pressure on government and social entities to find new ways to help the men and women who find themselves taking care of an elder family member.

Here in the South Bay, Home Instead Senior Care in nearby Torrance is inviting local families to nominate deserving family caregivers—or themselves—for for two, in addition to free care for their senior loved one. 

For more information about caregiving and support for caregivers, here is a series on the topic that published on Patch last year:

Good Days August 15, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Care giving is coming into focus faster than ever. It's great that they will get the recognition they deserve for the important roles they play. Our organization, Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund, is dedicated to helping chronic disease sufferers with their medical care. Please help these sufferers too, and support our organization. http://www.gooddaysfromcdf.org/
Alaina Coyle August 17, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Caregivers taking time for themselves is SUCH an important part of maintaining sanity. When my mom finally realized this and brought a homecare agency in to care for my grandparents, she found an awesome piece of technology that allowed her to check in on care updates via the web in real time. Thus, she still felt like she knew what was going on, but could take days like this to focus on her. The program used by our homecare service is called ClearCare Online and it is an awesome care management software. I recommend all senior caregivers ask their agency about it!

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