Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Caregiving: The Washington Post offers a special report, and there are proposals for a Caregiver Corps

On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, the Washington Post has a major special insert, section AA, “Caregiving: The Quiet Force Caring for an Aging America.”
  
Online. the Post also has a video with an ironic title, “Coming Out as a Caregivers”, here

There are two cover stories. One is by Tara Bahrampour, photos by Nikki Kahn, “Endless demands, relentlessness routine”.  And Richard Harris talks about “Heading toward a crisis: Heading for a care cliff,” link here

The biggest concern is obviously the aging population, with many families having fewer children.  People are living longer with diseases that require caregivers. 
  
The social paradigm has shifted.  A few decades ago, spinsters or “old maids” were expected to stay behind and take care of their parents, as the “family slaves”.  The elderly didn’t live very long once they became really disabled, and medicine could do little for them.  People accepted death as inevitable.  Yet, “family values” kept the scope of eldercare largely within the family.  As more people didn’t marry and have children of their own, the fabric began to crack, while at the same time life spans started to increase partly because medicine could extend lives.  Alzheimer’s will become the biggest source of disability, eclipsing predictions about AIDS during the 1980s.   
  
The article by Harris proposes a “Caregivers Corps” that would be a bit like the Peace Corps  or Americorps, in theory.  It could try to recruit other retirees and put a lot of pressure on “people like me.”
Actually, in 2002, when I was still in Minneapolis and had been through my “layoff”, I did hear about a “senior home companion” program with minimum age of 60 and payment of a “small stipend”.   
    

Harris talks about early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s, and severe disability of aging veterans. He also discusses other areas of disability, like autism.  Yet it is likely that autism seems to be increasing because it is being reported more often, and more can be done about it.  At the same time, some people with some social issues but no cognitive issues probably should not be counted.  
  
It would be well for the press to cover some other unusual issues that could become very disruptive in caregiving environments, ranging from bedbugs (imported from hotels) to finding tuberculosis in the patient.

Update:

NBC reports on the death rate from Alzheimer's:

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