But what is rarely talked about is that when aging parents need help they most often turn to their daughters, who may already be juggling husbands, children and full-time careers.
Elder-care expert Laurel Kennedy looks at this issue in her book, "The Daughter Trap -- taking care of mom and dad and you." Laurel Kennedy visited ABC7 News Sunday Morning with advice on how to get the whole family involved in elder care and lighten the load on women.
The Daughter Trap Revealed
National Study Reveals Boomer Women Struggling Under
Financial and Emotional Burdens of Elder Care
CHICAGO (April 13, 2010)- Research shows that 50% more women than men perform elder care duties, and more than 70% of the demanding Level 5 caregiving tasks fall to women. The issues, along with emerging solutions for elder care, are published today in the The Daughter Trap: Taking Care of Mom and Dad?and You (St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books imprint).
"Boomer women are caught in 'the daughter trap', stuck between the conflicting demands of a career, caring for young children, supporting adult children, trying to find time for their husbands and selves; all while taking on the primary responsibility for elder care," noted Laurel Kennedy, president of Age Lessons and author of the newly-released book. In their lifetimes, women will lose 11.5 years to caregiving; men just 1.3 years.
Kennedy observed, "The expectation is that women are ready, willing and able to take on caregiving responsibilities, when the reality is that they have reached the breaking point. Women feel that, in their struggle to please everyone, they've satisfied no one, have run themselves ragged and depleted their savings in the process," Kennedy said.
Kennedy conducted one-hour interviews with a nationally-representative sample of 216 Boomer women caring for aging parents and discovered that, although perfectly willing to do their fair share, women are overwhelmed because "parents expect too much and siblings contribute too little."
Fortunately, there are solutions on the horizon that will help the next wave of caregivers balance these duties more equitably. According to The Daughter Trap, these emerging solutions include:
" Caregiver contracts that treat caregiving as a job, spell out duties and compensate the caregiver, with siblings contributing equally to parental support.
" Virtual villages -- membership programs that enable elders to age in place with access to a set of pre-screened, monitored services at negotiated rates.
" Family coaches who help siblings work through elder care issues and negotiate past obstacles such as differing medical beliefs and financial strategies.
" Technology helpers ranging from robotic pets that calm dementia patients to talking medicine cabinets that remind users to take their meds; from floor sensors for remote tracking to memory glasses that prompt wearers about tasks based on environmental cues.
" Medical homes where a personal physician coordinates the full range of care using a whole person orientation and electronic medical records.
Researcher Kennedy conducted 60 minute depth phone interviews across the U.S. with a nationally-representative sample of 216 working women born between 1946-1964, who
reported having primary caregiving responsibility for one or more aging parents or in-laws.
For more information about elder care issues and solutions visit www.daughtertrap.com.