AARP Multicultural Survey July 2001
Almost 20 percent report stress generated by the care needs of the older and younger family members. The proportion increases by nearly half among those responsible for their parents’ or in-laws’ care.
Some cracks appear when respondents are asked more specific questions about strain on particular relationships. For example, nearly 20 percent of caregivers admit that providing care to older family members has caused some stress between themselves and their spouse, and between themselves and their brothers or sisters. Somewhat smaller proportions say caregiving has engendered friction in their relationships with their children or their own parents.
Among sandwich generation members who have provided some type of care for older family members, a large majority (72%) agree that the tasks have brought them closer to these family members. Only half, however, indicate that it makes them more optimistic about their own old age. Sustained personal efforts to help older people may force people to confront disconcerting realities of their own inevitable aging.
Nonetheless, caregiving older boomers expect to sustain or even increase their current levels of effort over the next five years, most likely because they believe that their parents will live well into old age.
Social Interactions Dominate Boomer Care for Parents
When providing care for older family members, baby boomers’ activities generally fall into one of two categories: social interaction and heavier duties. More than 80 percent of caregiving boomers interact socially, through telephone calls and personal visits. Fewer undertake such heavier duties as doing housework (45%), transporting an older relative to the doctor or shopping (46%), doing their shopping (44%), talking to doctors (36%), handling paperwork or bills (33%), hiring nurses and aids (17%), and helping with intimate care (12%). Only 27 percent report contributing financially to help pay expenses for their own parents or in-laws.
Caring Has Meant Some Adjustments
Many who help care for and support their elders adjust their own lives around their loved ones’ needs. Among those who have cared for elderly family members, almost 30 percent say that accommodating parents’ needs has led to changes in the timing of vacations, and more than 20 percent have altered
Prepared for AARP by Belden Russonello & Stewart and Research/Strategy/Management Page 6