Elder Care

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Caring for the Elderly

A local thirteen year old boy, Jesse Van Norman made the news on June 21, 2007. His story was on the Channel 10 nightly news. He had organized a group of young people to make and deliver lap blankets to local nursing homes and spend time visiting with the residents as they handed them out. He is an exceptional young man and deserved all of the accolades he was being given. The blankets created by kids were greatly appreciated, but the time moves slowly in a convalescent home, and the visiting with the residents has equally appreciated. It sadden me to think that it is unusual enough to be on the local news that people remembered the elderly who often no longer have family to visit them or their families are too busy to come and visit infrequently if at all. A large number of today’s elderly experience impatience from others, being alone, being bored and being disrespected, which can lead to an outcome of poor health. The magnitude of this problem on many levels is enormous. The impact on families who try to care for their loved ones in their homes, lose sleep, jobs, relationships and time with their own children. The lose of productivity and monies is also astronomical. This informal type of care for the elderly is how the majority of the needs for the older generation are provided. The US-based National Alliance for Care giving offers much higher estimates. By their calculations, American family caregivers provide $257 billion in free care annually. Compare this figure with $32 billion per year spent for home-based paid care and $92 billion per year for nursing home care in the United States. Eaton (2005).

The availability and access to eldercare in the United States is divided into two types of care, formal and informal. The formal eldercare is frequently provided in a nursing home or in an assisted living environment, which provides varying levels of help with daily living activities. The...
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