Caring for the caregiver

Alison Brody
Analyst
Public Insight Network
Denver registered nurse Susan Eager checks the strength of a patient's grip during a home visit in 2009. Full-time caregiving -- often from relatives -- with help from elder services and home-health aides, helps millions of older adults stay at home despite chronic illness. (Photo by John Moore | Getty Images)

Denver-registered nurse Susan Eager checks the strength of a patient’s grip during a home visit in 2009. Full-time caregiving — often from relatives with help from elder services and home-health aides — helps millions of older adults stay at home despite chronic illness. (Photo by John Moore | Getty Images)

More Americans are reaching old age than ever before. An aging baby boom generation means that by 2030, 19% of Americans will be over  65.

While some seniors live independently throughout their lives, most will require some level of support as they grow older. In many cases, that support comes from family and friends. So how are we doing when it comes to caring for older Americans? And, just as importantly, how are we doing caring for the caregivers?

The Public Insight Network recently hosted a live forum about family caregiving with public radio station WAMU in Washington, D.C. The  topics ranged from how to select a good geriatric care manager to the price of a year’s stay in an assisted living facility (answer: a lot!).

Money and how to make it last was, indeed, top-of-mind for many at the event. However, the issue articulated more than any other by caregivers was the sense of social isolation they feel while attending to the day-to-day tasks of supporting a frail or sick loved one. The caregivers in attendance expressed gratitude for being able to share their stories and said they appreciated that someone out there took the time to listen. (Here’s one story we heard that night that WAMU turned into a radio story.)

We’re now inspired to do a little more listening. Over the next few weeks, we’ll post stories from real caregivers about some of the topics raised at the event and give you an opportunity to share your own experience.

>> If you’ve cared for an aging or ill loved one, click one of the following links to share your story:

 

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Alison Brody Analyst
Public Insight Network

Alison Brody spends her day surrounded by stories from people all across the country. She works with journalists from newsrooms like NPR and The New York Times to help turn these insights into meaningful journalism (i.e., not from a press release or a political speech).

Before joining the PIN team, Alison worked as a PIN analyst at the public radio show Marketplace. For two years she asked questions about credit card debt, employment, unemployment and health insurance. She's also worked at Los Angeles’ public television station, where she helped produce an international news pilot and a digital prototype that was half game, half social network, aimed at teaching students about the U.S. Constitution.