Family Centred Elder Care

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In the world of aging in the 21st century there is an increased number of longevity and life expectancy for elderly people. Along with older age is more health conditions and need of social services or family assistance. Because of the growth in an aging population, the need for adult children to care for their parents has increased significantly, and will only increase more as baby boomers age. While institutionalized care is available for elderly individuals, often times children do not believe their loved one’s are getting the proper care they need or simply want to control their parents health. Because of this, many children of elderly parents are taking the caregiving role on themselves. In this paper I will analyze the question of whether family centred care for elderly individuals has a positive or negative effect on children of the elderly. This topic is of much importance as the aging population is growing and fertility rates are declining. As the baby boomers begin to age, based on findings we could see a major problem in the field of mental health including depression, anxiety, and extra stress. For the purposes of this paper, I will analyze the sandwich generation, caregivers, and caregiver burnout as well as the effect it has on a child of an elderly person’s personal life.

The Sandwich Generation

When individuals reach the middle years of their life, often times they have to parent decisions for both their children and their parents’ next stages. For their children, this could mean decisions about university, or a job, or simply moving away from home; for their parents, this could mean whether to put them in institutionalized care or whether to care for them on their own for the purposes of health changes. This step in a middle-aged person can be referred to as the sandwich generation. This term shows that an individual between 45-65 years of age must help their child make decisions adjusting to adulthood as well as assisting their parents to adjustments and issues in the later years of their life (Raphael and Schlesinger 1993: 3-10). The sandwich generation often finds issues in regards to balancing their lives, such as time, energy, and resources in order to support both their growing children and their aging parents. On top of this, they must be able to balance their personal lives, their marriage, and their working career that is necessary to provide for two different generations above and below them in age. This balance of life will only increase as an author for Statistics Canada estimates that by 2026, 1 in 5 Canadian’s will be 65 years or older, which is an increase from 2001 when it was 1 in 8 (Williams 2005: 1). Trends in society today have changed drastically since that of the 1990s. It has been explained that the nature of the family environment is much different today than in the 1990s, people are living longer, delayed marriage occurs, there are more adult children living at home longer, and increased adult children are returning home after divorce (Lingren and Decker 1996: 2). If we look at the two points above, not only is the elderly generation living longer, more children are staying at home for a prolonged period of time. As the older generation continues to grow, more need for caregivers will be present in the future. Although institutional care is available, often times the children do not trust their loved one’s being in this situation and therefore try to take on the task on their own of caring for their aging parent. With growing children of their own, the sandwich generation must also help their children with their future. Added stress can be placed on them as the child typically leaves home just after 18, so when a child decides to stay home for much of their college years and sometimes afterwards, the parents have another body in the house to have to continuously parent. With the changing nature of the family environment, it seems as though the added pressure is placed on the...
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