family3 Caring for Elders… and YourselfNancy Nall Reporting

For all the attention paid to such issues as nursing-home costs, much less is spent on a quieter revolution in health care – children who care for elderly parents. According to the Center for Elder Law, more than 44 million people in the United States are unpaid caregivers for another, and most of them hold paying jobs as well, either part- or full-time. 

Caring for an aging parent may be the most important work in your life, but chances are it’s not always rewarding. It can be exhausting, frustrating, physically demanding, difficult and heartbreaking – suggesting the caregiver may need a little special handling, too. 

The good news is that with 44 million others out there, you can find someone else going through the same thing. Check with your local area aging agencies to see if there’s a support group for people in your position; they’re particularly numerous for Alzheimer’s caregivers, but there are others. The internet is a good resource as well. Strength for Caring, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, offers a good one-stop clearinghouse for tips, support, resources and message boards. 

The most important thing is to remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of another. Doing so is not selfish at all – it’s just the opposite.

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