Aging Together: “Boomerang Seniors” Are Caregivers for Their Parents
Have you heard the term “boomerang seniors”? It refers to older adults – people in their 60s, 70s or 80s – who are caregivers for their parents. As our population ages, and as people live longer than ever thanks to advances in health care, more and more Baby Boomers are finding themselves in this difficult position. It’s a twist on what we typically think of as the “sandwich generation” – middle-aged people caring for young children as well as aging parents – and it’s going to become a much bigger issue in years to come.
Boomerang seniors either move so they can live closer to aging parents or they move in with aging parents. Both situations can present a multitude of challenges, including financial, physical and emotional ones. For example, many seniors must cope with their own health and mobility challenges while supporting a parent who is in their 80s, 90s or older.
The boomerang senior phenomenon is more pronounced in the United States, but it is beginning to emerge in Canada as well. As of 2019, seniors (age 65 and older) accounted for 17.5% of the country’s population, and this figure is projected to grow to nearly 23% by the year 2031. Centenarians make up a very small percentage of the overall population, but they are our fastest-growing age group. In July 2010, Canada had 6,500 people aged 100 or older; by July 2019, that figure had grown to 10,795. More than 80% of centenarians are women.
How to cope as a caregiver
Caregiving takes many forms, but even if seniors don’t provide hands-on care for their much older parent, they must concern themselves with their parent’s or parents’ well-being well into their own golden years – a notion that previous generations didn’t have to think or worry about. Traditionally, retirement has meant more freedom and fewer responsibilities. While it can be emotionally rewarding for caregivers to look after someone they love, doing so is also highly demanding. Caregiver burnout is common.
To reduce the strain of caregiving, it helps to enlist support from relatives, friends, neighbours, community resources, professional caregivers or a combination of sources. Your loved one’s physician or a social worker may be able to assist in finding supports.
How home care lightens the load
No matter what your age, you may want to explore how professional home health care can benefit both your loved one and yourself.
Many people have misconceptions about home care – for example, that it’s only suitable for people who are ill. In fact, home care services such as personal care, companionship, meal preparation and housekeeping provide a helping hand so that seniors can continue to age in place, as most Canadians prefer to do. Another myth is that home care is just a short-term solution. In reality, it can be beneficial at every stage of aging, helping seniors stay safe and healthy in their homes for as long as possible.
Hiring help for a few hours a week can provide caregivers with much-needed respite and peace of mind. Reducing the strain of caregiving can also enable family caregivers to simply spend time with their loved one and better enjoy their company, while allocating tasks such as grooming and bathing to a personal support worker.
Bayshore Home Health offers a wide range of home health care services to help Canadians live independently, including nursing, personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation and more. For details, please call us at 1-877-289-3997.