Caregiving can bring guilt and anxiety—and it can be a gift as well.
For most children, their parents are the people in charge of taking care of them from infancy and even into adulthood. Mom and Dad were there to bandage your boo-boos, sing you to sleep, and soothe you when you were sick. But as the population ages—and more are afflicted with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, stroke and cancer—the tables are often turned on parents and their now-adult children.
According to statistics from the National Institute on Aging, there were 37 million people age 65 or older in 2006; that's about 12 percent of the population. But by 2030, as the Baby Boomer generation ages, that number is predicted to rise dramatically. Projections forecast that approximately 71.5 million people—about 20 percent of the population—will be 65 or older. Alzheimer's disease currently affects 5 million Americans, and strokes, which also afflict about 5 million people, are the number-one cause of adult disability.
Finding answers to tricky questionsFor most adult children who are thrust into a caregiving role for a parent, the change happens suddenly. "It usually starts with a phone call, and it's like getting hit over the head," says Andy Cohen, CEO of caring.com, a Web site that offers support and advice to caregivers.
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