Redefining the Role of the Modern Caregiver
Updated: Nov 20, 2021
In this guide, Rianka breaks down what it means to be a modern caregiver and how this impacts personal finances, estate planning, and more.
I recall being a college senior deciding if I needed to go home to help take care of my nana or to finish college. Of course my nana wouldn’t allow me to come home to help take care of her, but it was a decision I had to ponder. This experience made me acutely aware of the emotional and mental toll that being a caregiver can bring. Little did I know, at age 22, I was already preparing myself to be a caregiver. A millennial's place in this world has significantly evolved from that of their parents. Between evolving career and familial expectations, we are truly a testament to the incredible benefits and constant challenges of existing and thriving in today’s modern society. This includes the role of being a caretaker, too!
Unlike our parents and grandparents generation, being a caretaker is no longer reserved for simply caring for an aging or sick family member. In fact, many individuals reading this article may already be caregivers and not even know it. We’re working with new definitions here. According to Torchlight Caregiving, “modern caregiving is the state of disposition of tending to a loved one’s extended and often complex array of care needs in today’s fast-paced, frequently shifting world.”
Fast-paced; frequently-shifting. Sounds about right.
Twenty-first century technology has become one of the leading industries, bringing digital tools, apps, and global communication like never before that assist in overall organization of households and medical care. As such, there is now a lot of information to be aware of and tools to better prepare for taking care of parents and older generations.
What challenges should you prepare for? Let’s discuss.
The Challenges of Longer Lifespans
Public healthcare has improved dramatically over the past few decades to extend the lifespan of our loved ones. In the United States recent reports place men at an average life expectancy of 75.1 years, and women at 80.5. Although this data has been impacted by the recent pandemic, overwhelmingly it is positive news, illustrated by a confluence of multiple efforts.
Infectious diseases are now more easily controlled and treated through antibiotics, antiviral medications and vaccines. Water resources and sanitation have seen new developments with improved testing, treating and storage facilities. Organic sustainable foods have become readily available on grocery store shelves. Indoor and outdoor fitness programs have dominated the landscape for the last couple decades.
With all these welcomed options available to maintain optimal health, the question has quickly become — who is going to take care of these older generations?
The Evolution of the Caregiving Role
In previous generations, caregivers would likely place a loved one into a nursing home where care would be administered round-the-clock by a staff of professionals. Now people want a different living experience, usually in the comfort of their own home. Modern caregivers must adapt, becoming more collaborative with their family units.
This trend has had a great impact on women who are now fully ingrained in the workplace. Unlike the generations that came before us, now every man and woman is faced equally with this challenging task. A January 2021 article from Benefits Pro shared, “According to the Caregiving in the US report from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are an estimated 53 million caregivers in the United States, up from the estimated 43.5 million caregivers in 2015. The pandemic has only increased the crisis workers were already facing. According to the Torchlight Report of Working Caregiver Concerns, employees are self-reporting a 35.5% rise in anxiety and depression since mid-March 2020 as they juggle their work lives and families.”
Today’s caregivers are saddled with more responsibilities and more stress. Millennials, it’s time to take control.