Aging Parents 101: 8 Things You Probably Don't Know About Elder Care

Caring for your parents is an emotional role-reversal, but you're not alone. Learn more about the millions of people who are also caring for their aging parents.

1. Labor of Love

grandmother reaching to child

Eighty percent of long-term care performed in the home is provided by an unpaid caregiver, usually a partner, friend, or family member.

2. Time Investment

The average person providing in-home care to an aging relative or friend spends 20 hours a week giving care. 58 percent of these caregivers have intensive responsibilities that include personal care activities, such as feeding and bathing.

3. Caught in the Middle

Approximately 66 million middle-aged adults have been dubbed the "Sandwich Generation" as they are doing double duty by providing emotional and financial support for both their aging parents and young adult children.

4. Activities of Daily Living

Most long-term care services are not medical in nature. Personal care needs are covered by some long-term care insurance plans. These needs are also called Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and include bathing, dressing, using the toilet, caring for incontinence, transferring to or from a bed or chair, and eating.

5. Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Aging parents can often stay in their home longer if they get assistance with everyday tasks often called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). These tasks include housework, cleaning, managing money, taking medication, preparing meals, shopping for groceries and clothing, and using the telephone or computer.

6. Prescription Management

On average, individuals 65 to 69 years old take nearly 14 prescriptions per year, individuals aged 80 to 84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year.

7. Medication Malfunctions

Adverse drug reactions are among the top threats to the health of seniors. Adverse drug reactions and noncompliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly.

8. Reach Out

Web sites such as the Family Caregiver Alliance (www.caregiver.org) offer a wealth of resources for all levels of caregiving and tips for caring for family members with specific conditions.

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