Information for this post is sourced from Genworth Financial. All opinions are my own.
As we approach the holidays, I have been thinking about all the things that I am thankful for. I am blessed with a healthy, happy family. But things were not always easy. I lost the most important person in my life almost 10 years ago.
I was raised by my grandmother, and when I graduated college, I was her caregiver. She had fallen and needed a lot of rehabilitation. I didn’t have many resources and I didn’t know anyone who had gone through, or was going through, the same thing. Most of my friends were in college and without much responsibility.
When I was younger, my grandmother had actually been a caregiver for her mother, my great-grandmother who was in her 90’s. However, I really had no idea how much actually goes into being a caregiver. I am in awe that someone in their late 60’s was able to be such a dedicated caregiver for her 93 year old mother. I was lucky to have a great grandmother (that’s us in the photo above!), but I do remember how it was upsetting to have the family scrambling to get her situated after she broke her hip.
Now that I am older and have a family, I am increasingly seeing friends go through the caregiving experience with their parents or even their grandparents. They often come to me because they know I can relate. I won’t lie – caregiving is difficult in many ways.
I recently read an article entitled “Women Are Caregivers, But Who Cares for Them?”. I can entirely relate to the article, and even though I was in a good position to be a caregiver, I still made sacrifices to take on this responsibility full time. According to this article, there are 40 million people caring for an older relative, mostly consisting of women, and usually it is a full time, unpaid responsibility.
In a way, I was lucky that I had just finished college and did not have a permanent job or other responsibilities to interfere with being a full-time caregiver and to be there for my grandmother through her rehabilitation. It was fortunate that I was in a position to drop everything to do this full time, but most people are not going to be in that position. I realize if something like that happened now, I don’t know how we could make it work. I live 4 hours from where my grandmothers house was, and I am a stay at home mom. Who would watch the kids? How would we afford the expenses? Genworth Financial has many resources to help address and answer those kinds of questions.
Now that I have friends starting to go through the same scenarios, I can see the importance of planning ahead. You can’t ever anticipate when something is going to happen. But you can put measures into place so that it is easier to handle when something does happen. A good friend of mine has been helping take care of her grandparents, both of whom have a variety of health issues. Both she and her parents help to take care of them when they can. Although she is not a full-time caregiver, I see how she is already stressed out. Sometimes she goes straight from a long day at work to take care of her grandparents, getting home late, and then repeating it all again the next day. I would urge her and anyone else to try to utilize as many resources as possible, and to put into place plans, should something happen. There are many services for the elderly or those who need things such as home health care, whether it is a free meal service or hiring a visiting nurse.
If you have parents, grandparents, or other relatives that you are concerned about, or that it has crossed your mind that they may need help now or in the future, you may want to think about planning ahead. It really makes a world of difference to have things in place for when something happens. Because I have gone through this, I know how the whole family is affected, from the caregiver(s) to the person in need of assistance. It can help to make preparations for the future, from financials to living situations.
You can visit Genworth at https://www.genworth.com/.