The Average Caregiver Is Younger Than Ever - Are They Prepared?
As couples choose to become parents later in life, caregivers for their parents are now younger than before
This past June, despite ongoing strife within the royal family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcomed their second child into the world. Undoubtedly, the Prince and the Duchess are excited to spend the rest of their lives smiling, laughing and aging alongside their precious children, living as normal of a life as possible.
Of course, while there will never be much about their royal lives that is actually normal, there is at least one thing that Meghan has in common with millions of women around the globe: she just had what is considered a "geriatric pregnancy." Meghan Markle turned 40 this past August, just 2 months after the birth of her daughter.
Later-aged pregnancies are a growing trend across the globe and some quick math will tell you that a mother such as Meghan will reach her 70th birthday when her children are barely 30 years old.
But is a 30-year-old prepared to be a caregiver when their aging parents begin to need help? Is a 50-year-old prepared? Are any of us ever prepared? Overwhelmingly, that answer is "no."
As the average age of a caregiver continues to edge younger, it is especially critical that we find guidance upon the caregiving journey. WayWiser is trying to help us navigate that odyssey with both their upcoming app and their recently launched Caregiving Guide that tailors your loved one's support needs based on a series of research based questions and answers.
Are We Prepared To Be Caregivers?
According to a new study by AARP, 46% of caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 49. That same study suggests that the average age of a person receiving care is roughly 69. By these measures, it could be concluded that a mother who gives birth at 29, which is just above the average age in the United States, would likely need some sort of care by the time their child turns 40.
This is one of the many reasons why WayWiser developed its Caregiving Guide. As generations move forward, caregivers will be even less prepared than they are today, so it will be important to have tools to help light a pathway towards success.
No matter your age, becoming a caregiver to an older adult can be jarring. We don't train to care for an older adult in school and the breadth of obstacles and tasks involved can be daunting, even if it isn't your first time taking on such responsibility.
There are classes, books and advice to no end when it comes to raising a child, but not so much when it comes to caring for a parent. What are the questions that need to be asked? What situations can be solved at home to allow an aging parent to remain independent? How do you solve them? At what point should assisted living be considered? How do you choose an assisted living facility? The questions go on and on.
Prepare To Be A Caregiver
There is a Malaysian proverb that says, "prepare an umbrella before the rain." It's a simple concept, but one that is too often neglected.
Our parents are often incredibly strong and smart. They have held the answers to all our questions since we were kids. The notion that roles would reverse and we'd need to care for them as they become older is one we typically push from our minds whenever it arises, never discussed until it's too late. For those under 40, in that rising arena of young caregivers, the thought might not have even occurred yet. But we need to prepare the umbrella before it rains. And these days, the rain is coming early.
Normalizing the conversation about cognitive and physical decline as we age and preparing young adults to care for older adults is going to be an important part of our community education as generations pass. Having caregiving direction at your fingertips needs to become the norm. WayWiser's guide is a good place to start.
Launching in late 2021, WayWiser is a multi-platform application that connects people within a Trusted Circle™ and provides the tools and guidance needed to protect and coordinate the financial independence and dignity of loved ones as they age.