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50+: Live Better, Longer

Boomers Not Planning for Parents’ Care

AARP Urges 'Difficult Discussions' to Avoid Crisis
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 8, 2007 -- Baby boomer women are concerned about how to care for their aging parents, but few are planning for it, according to a survey released Thursday by AARP.

The telephone survey included 629 women aged 45 and older with at least one living parent. It was conducted in October 2007.

Almost seven in 10 women surveyed by AARP said they were somewhat concerned or very concerned about their parents' ability to live independently as they age. But just four in 10 said they or their parents had begun to plan living arrangements, whether that means living at home, in a new place, or in a care facility.

"These are difficult conversations, but they are very important conversations," Elinda Ginzler, AARP's director of livable communities, told reporters.

Ginzler said many families put off thinking about their parents' care until they confront a crisis. That can result in elderly parents living in conditions they don't want or would not have chosen for themselves.

"Then unfortunately, it's learning the hard way," she said.

AARP's survey also showed that almost one in five women have considered a nursing home for their parents' long-term care. While the number seems low, other studies show that just 1% of elderly people say they want to be in a nursing home if they need care.

"So, one in a hundred of the parents would prefer a nursing home. Not one in five as their daughters did," said Susan Reinhard, AARP's director of public policy.

The survey was released to draw attention to a new AARP campaign designed to help baby boomers and their parents plan for living arrangements or care.

Ginzler urges adult children to consider the accessibility of a parent's current home, including the stairs, and whether the house will need to be modified. Children may also consider:

  • Can aging parents handle household chores, or might they need assistance?
  • Can they drive well or get around to see friends or do shopping?
  • Are parents able to handle paying bills and other daily activities on their own?
  • Are there special medical needs that will require attention?

AARP is steering people toward its web site, which has new information for children and elderly parents to plan for care. It can be found at www.AARP.org/caregiving.

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