Unbound MEDLINE

Families and elder care in the twenty-first century.

Abstract

Although most Americans know that the U.S. population is aging, they are far less informed about the reality of providing elders with personal care, health care, and social support. Families-particularly women-have always been critical in providing elder care, but the entry of so many women into the paid labor force has made elder care increasingly difficult. Ann Bookman and Delia Kimbrel show how changes in both work and family life are complicating families' efforts to care for elderly relatives. Because almost 60 percent of elder caregivers today are employed, many forms of caregiving must now be "outsourced" to nonfamily members. And because elders are widely diverse by race and socioeconomic status, their families attach differing cultural meanings to care and have widely different resources with which to accomplish their care goals. Although the poorest elders have access to some subsidized services, and the wealthiest can pay for services, many middle-class families cannot afford services that allow elders to age in their homes and avoid even more costly institutional care. Six key groups--health care providers, nongovernmental community-based service providers, employers, government, families, and elders themselves--are engaged in elder care, but their efforts are often fragmented and uncoordinated. All six groups must be able to work in concert and to receive the resources they need. Both employer and government policies must be improved. Although large businesses have taken up the elder care challenge, most small and mid-sized firms still do not offer flexible work arrangements. Social Security and Medicare have provided critical support to families caring for elders, yet both face significant financial shortfalls. The Older American Act and the National Family Caregiver Support Program have broadened access to elder services, but need updating to address the needs of today's employed caregivers and elders who want to "age in place." And just over half of the nation's workforce is eligible for the unpaid leave benefits provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act. The authors close by reflecting on the need for a coordinated, cross-sector movement to create an "aging-friendly" society in the United States-a society that values well-being across the life span and supports citizens from diverse cultures and income levels as they age.

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  • Aggregator Full Text
  • Authors

    Bookman A, Kimbrel D

    Institution

    Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, USA.

    Source

    The Future of children / Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation 21:2 2011 pg 117-40

    MeSH

    Aged
    Aged, 80 and over
    Caregivers
    Chronic Disease
    Cost of Illness
    Cultural Diversity
    Family Leave
    Female
    Financing, Government
    Forecasting
    Frail Elderly
    Health Services Accessibility
    Health Services Needs and Demand
    Humans
    Male
    Population Dynamics
    Public Policy
    United States
    Women, Working
    Work Schedule Tolerance

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    22013631