Growing number of caregivers in aging America

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A recent study found that family care giving rakes in more than $300 billion per year - more than the value of home care and nursing care combined. In an aging America, more children will find themselves becoming the caregiver to their parents.

Caregiver Cindy Kanke sings to comfort her parents.

"Especially when I see my Dad is having a hard time," she said.

Her father has dementia and her mother recently suffered a stroke. It's not an easy job. Patricia Jones with Memorial Health Systems in Lufkin said the task is physically and emotionally draining.

"I think caregivers can burn out," said Jones. "It's a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job."

According to the American Family Physician, by 2030, an estimated 20 percent of the United States will be 65 years or older. In an aging America, Jones said countless caregivers are already in their 60s. That's why it's vital caregivers find the time to care for themselves.

"That can sometimes cause problems because not everybody in their 60s is in good enough health to help someone else," said Jones.

Kanke said she has recently taken the time to have regular doctor visits. "Because how can I help Mother and Daddy if I'm not in good shape myself?" said Kanke.

As Kanke reminds her father of little things we might take for granted, like the day and date, she offered a piece of advice.

"I think that you have to take care of yourself and if you find yourself feeling poor me, pitiful me, how am I going to deal with this, you need to go find some help," she said.

Although Kanke has medical help for her parents, Jones said it is stressful.

"You're then managing the paid caregivers and who's going to be there when and the schedule for the paid caregiver and all these things and that's very time consuming and stressful too," said Jones.

Kanke said she embraces each day with her parents and their journey through the aging process.

"But, would I change what I'm doing? No, I wouldn't change any of it. I wouldn't change any of it," she said.

Jones will be speaking at a conference entirely for caregivers on July 29 at the Lufkin Civic Center. The Caregiver Conference is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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