August 4, 2023
There is perhaps no stronger bond than the one between a parent and a child. In a healthy relationship, a parent lovingly tends to the needs of their child from before birth throughout decades, perhaps all, of life. Yet, increasingly, the parent-child roles are reversing. Given that people are living longer today than ever before, increasingly more adult children are tending to aging parents who can no longer adequately care for themselves. And while most of them do it out of love, respect, duty, even guilt, they are feeling the immense burden of the responsibility – particularly those in the “Sandwich Generation” who are caring for both their own children and their parents at the same time.
The Caretaking Toll on Adult Children
Consider these findings from a 2020 Caregiving in the U.S. study:
- More than 1 in 5 Americans are unpaid family caregivers; among them, 50 percent (over 25 million) are caring for a parent or parent-in-law.
- The medical and/or support needs of adult care recipients are increasingly complex.
- 6 in 10 elderly care recipients need help with basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, dressing, grooming, toileting, transporting – the same assistance elderly parents once offered their children.
- 51 percent of adult family caregivers report considerable feelings of stress or strain, or “caregiver burnout”.
- The stress of caring for an older parent affects adult children’s physical, emotional and financial well-being, as well as their work, social and recreational activities.
The feelings of stress and strain reported by over half of those caring for an aging parent run the entire physical, emotional, and even financial gamut.
Common physical complaints of caregiver burnout include exhaustion, poor sleep habits, trouble concentrating, changes in eating and drinking habits, weight gain or loss, and a general decline in health. In fact, nearly one quarter report that regular care of their aging parents makes it difficult to tend to their own health, and the same percentage reports that their health has in fact worsened.
Adult children responsible for the care and support of their senior parents often experience anxiety and depression, increased irritability, difficulty relaxing or enjoying things they normally would, and – even as they are shouldering tremendous obligations and making significant sacrifices – continued feelings of guilt and doubt.
While many adult children assume that their unpaid care of aging parents is the most affordable route, what they don’t consider is that, beyond the price of compromised physical and emotional health, there are very real financial costs.
For many, caregiving requires reduced work hours to accommodate loved ones’ needs, frequent interruptions that can hamper career advancement, and myriad out-of-pocket expenses that, according to research from AARP, add up to over $7,000 a year. What’s more, some 12% of caregivers use their long-term savings or retirement accounts to cover expenses associated with the support of family members.
There are intangible costs as well, such as lost time with one’s own family and friends, missed social opportunities, vacations, hobbies, and precious time to oneself.
When Mom Thinks She Can Live on Her Own
For many adult children, the burden is not being their parent’s regular caregiver; it’s navigating the rocky terrain of negotiating with a parent who can no longer safely live on their own…but they think they can.
There are few situations more fraught with angst on all sides than trying to convince someone who’s lived independently most of their lives that they must leave their home. This emotional tightrope is even tenser when adult children are far from their parents.
“My mother was living by herself, six hours away from me,” said Bruce Hentges, vice president of an interior planning firm specializing in senior housing environments.
When Bruce got a call from his mother’s local grocery store that she was there with two black eyes and no idea how it happened, he knew something had to change.
“That was the tipping point,” said Bruce, who subsequently enlisted the help of home health care four hours a day. “But that wasn’t enough; she needed to be somewhere safe ‘round the clock and near me.”
That “somewhere” was a senior living community within a few short miles of Bruce, where his mother is now happily engaged in all the community has to offer. Bruce and his family are happy too – and very relieved.
What Adult Children Gain in a Parent’s Move to Senior Living
The advantages of life in a retirement community, assisted living or personal care are limitless. Seniors can enjoy active, vibrant lifestyles knowing they will be cared for, regardless of how their needs may change and without the disruption of another move.
As assuring as this is to residents, it is perhaps even more comforting to their adult children, who can now enjoy:
- Priceless peace of mind knowing their loved ones are safe, secure and professionally cared for at all times
- Improved overall health and well-being and an end to caregiver burnout
- More time with their own children, friends and associates
- Greater opportunities to explore hobbies, activities, travel, etc.
- Continuous, uninterrupted career growth
- Relief from out-of-pocket expenses associated with caring for aging parents
- Respite from chores, maintenance, errands, and commuting associated with elder parent care
- The joy of being the “kid” again – now that Mom or Dad is safe and engaged, adult children and their parents can resume their natural family roles.
What Senior Parents Gain
“I wish I’d done this sooner,” is a frequent refrain from many who have moved to senior living – whether by their own choice or a loved one’s encouragement.
“Residents in senior living almost always thrive,” said Maureen Longoria, co-founder of LivNow Senior Relocation Services. “This should – and can – be a good move for everyone.”
Here are some reasons why a senior living community like Barclay Friends can be the best choice for your parent:
- Quality healthcare for the entirety of life, regardless of how needs may change
- Beautifully designed accommodations that immediately feel like home
- True independence:
- Freedom from worry about care, safety and security
- Freedom from chores, home maintenance, yard work, laborious cooking
- Freedom to explore countless new activities, hobbies and interests
- Freedom from loneliness and isolation
- Ample opportunities to make new friends and enjoy vibrant social connections
- Healthful, delicious dining in stylish, restaurant-like settings
- Fitness centers, pools, classes and programs
- Luxurious amenities and services
- Picturesque grounds, gardens and outdoor living spaces
At Barclay Friends, we understand the unique challenges adult children face as their parents age. We are here to help you navigate this journey as smoothly as possible and, ultimately, arrive at a decision that brings peace of mind, freedom and joy to everyone.
Discover the benefits of senior living for your loved one – and yourself.
Learn more about Barclay Friends’ continuum of care.