Aging Baby Boomers: The role of caretakers

Our series on aging baby boomers continues with the challenges that caregivers face.

As our population ages, Baby Boomers and their families are met with new challenges in finding long-term care solutions, paying for health care and more. 

By 2030, state leaders say roughly 20 percent of Tennesseans will be age 65 or older. 

Carolyn Neil, an elder care advocate who is an administrator at Asbury Place in Maryville, says one in four adults are currently serving as caregivers to an elderly relative, friend or spouse. 

About 65 percent of those caregivers are women who work outside the home, and spend nearly 20 hours a week providing care. 

MORE: Aging Baby Boomers: The numbers, the cost and the help available

While the mental and financial toll of caring for a loved one can be daunting, the best way to minimize the stress of caring for an aging relative is planning ahead, Neil said. 

She said it's important thing is for families to have a conversation about long-term care before they reach a point of crisis, and to make plans before an elderly relative reaches the point of needing extra care.

"Most folks wait, unfortunately, until a crisis hits, and you can have such a more productive conversation when we're all healthy and well," Neil said.

"None of us want to age, none of us want to ask for help, so we've got to sit and think through this when we're not stressed, when we're not in the hospital, when we don't have additional financial strain and all of these other things that do come with crisis," she said. 

Some of the important points to discuss are insurance, including whether you need long-term care insurance, financial resources and legal documents. 

Neil said it's also important to talk about your support system, such as siblings, friends or church members who can offer support to both the person who needs care and the caregiver.

MORE: Aging Baby Boomers: Affordable housing crisis

MORE: Aging Baby Boomers: Saving up for the cost of care

Neil said some of the legal documents families need to discuss include:

  • Power of attorney for health care
  • Power of attorney for finances
  • Advanced directive/living will
  • Last will and testament

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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