Of Boomers and Sandwichers

Parent care support for your baby-boomer parents

Their parents might have started the generation off with a bang, but for the millions of Canadian baby-boomers turning sixty this year and in the decade ahead, these once-vital fathers and mothers are now entering the twilight of their lives. Many of these people may need to enlist the services of parent care experts.

Statistics Canada is now processing new data from the 2006 census. However, results from the last census in 2001 indicate that close to 1.3 million Canadians are now between the ages of 80 and 95. This group represents the ‘boom-parents’, but what’s more, they represent a new responsibility boomers must come to grips with: the inevitable provision of care for those aging fathers and mothers. And the potential cost of that care is startling.

The cost of senior care

According to a Globe and Mail report in May 2006, caring for a loved one full-time over the years can cost upwards of $730,000 CDN. According to Statistics Canada nearly 1.4 million adults 45 and older juggle their time between a full-time job and caregiving for an elderly parent. That doesn’t leave much time to enjoy life, let alone process the emotional impact of facing their parents’ mortality.

While many boomers are dealing with new domestic challenges such as planning their own retirement years, one task that looms large is planning the caring needs for their parents. It is a subject many boomers are uncomfortable discussing, let alone managing. Still, it is the new boomer reality and the sooner they tackle the issue, the easier it will be to ensure a better quality of life, and emotional stability for themselves and their parents.

Then there is the “sandwich” generation, people in their 40’s and 50’s, who also struggle mightily as they deal with caring not only for aging and ailing parents and grandparents, but with continued provision of care and support for their own children as they start university, move out and require help becoming independent. Emotionally toiling times indeed.

A great way to ensure both groups are as supported as they can be in these challenging scenarios is to engage the help of a professional, personal healthcare management team. That’s where Qualicare comes in. They facilitate the management of a loved one’s care allowing family members to go from full-time caregivers to what they should be: supportive, involved and loving family who are able to spend time visiting in comfort and in peace.

Andrea Nathanson is a registered nurse and the executive director of Qualicare Inc. With 20+ years experience administering specialized healthcare service she knows a thing or two about the struggles boomers and sandwichers will have to face with ill parents. “It’s hard for everyone involved to deal with,” she says. “But when you’re faced with a palliative care situation or the need for crisis management, it’s best to consider what will make you and your parent more comfortable and at ease. Sure you can send them to the hospital, but other than comfort measures, and by that I mean pain-killers and other medications, what more can a hospital do?” As a registered nurse, Nathanson and her team of trained, RN case managers are allowed to provide these same treatment regimes in the comfort of clients’ homes, which eases tension and worry carried by the family.

Nathanson asks that boomers keep in mind the associated costs, both monetary and emotional, with keeping a loved one in the hospital for palliative care or extended periods of time. “Visiting [a parent] in the hospital incurs costs often not taken into consideration, and they add up. There’s parking, food, paying for overnight caretakers and any numbers of associated costs,” she says. “But with a service like ours, boomers know that their parents can stay at home, in comfort and surrounded by loved ones until their final day. This provides an environment designed to put the patient at ease so they can reflect on their years in their own recognizable surroundings.”

Just as important is the fact that with a service like Qualicare’s, boomers and sandwichers can free up valuable time for themselves to concentrate on simply enjoying the time left with their loved ones instead of trying to navigate the burdensome waters of the health system on their own.

Nathanson cautions that boomers and sandwichers also need to look after themselves while they care for their parents. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), boomers are at ever-greater risk for cardiovascular disease due to increased stress, some of which could stem from the trauma of caring for a parent. And according to the HSFC after age 55 the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years. Managing stress and letting health care experts assist can mitigate this.

“My palliative philosophy goes to my mission at Qualicare which is: preventative health,” says Nathanson. “When I have a palliative client I know they are going to die and I can deal with that. That’s not so much my worry. My worry is for the family that is going to live on. The question I ask is ‘how healthy will they be at the end of the day?’ I take those people as seriously as my patients. Because if they are left ill or with feelings of guilt they can have health problems later on and wind up in the hospital themselves.”

That is why boomers and sandwichers would be well-advised to consider a specialized service such as Qualicare’s, so that they too can get the most from the time remaining with their parents, and endure less stress knowing that they have done right by them (and themselves) when all is said and done.

Qualicare provides expert parent care services and support. Whether you need to appoint a medical case manager or invest in at home care for your parents, we can help you. Contact us for more information today.


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