I’ve said before in this blog that caregivers are the real experts regarding caregiving – not me.
Caregivers are the only ones who can describe what anthropologists call the “lived experience” of caring for a family member or similar loved one, and they’re the only ones who can really paint for us the many complex shades of this world.
That’s why I’m so pleased to tell you about a series I discovered on National Public Radio called “Family Matters.” In this two-month special series, reporter David Greene explores issues surrounding finances, duty and love among three families living in multigenerational households.
These families have made major lifestyle changes due to a combination of the increased needs of aging loved ones and mounting economic challenges. In the series, the families openly and eloquently share their fears, realities, and hopes with others so that society can better understand this growing population.
National Public Radio Headquarters, (c) NPR
Three episodes have aired so far:
One Roof, Three Generations, Many Decisions – In this introductory piece, we learn that between 2007 and 2009, the number of Americans living in multigenerational households increased ten percent, with some households melding four generations. We also learn about the joys and struggles of these kinds of living arrangements.
Preparing for a Future that Includes Aging Parents – This episode delves deeper into the costs of elder care, which are stunning (case in point: the average annual cost of home health care is close to $22,000). We see how these raw numbers translate to real lives when the families being followed try to pay for elder care while their children are still at home and money is tight in general.
Discovering the True Cost of At-Home Caregiving – In this most recent segment, we get a peek into the life of a caregiver who left the workforce in order to care for an aging relative. We don’t often think about the ramifications of these choices for the caregiver, such as risking a secure retirement and the difficulty of re-entering the workforce once the caregiving journey has ended.
“Family Matters” airs Tuesdays on NPR’s Morning Edition through June 5th. Each episode is downloadable to mobile devices and is no longer than 10 minutes, so following the series is do-able for busy caregivers.
I highly recommend it, not only because it provides great information for caregivers who are worried about how to pay for elder care – it also puts very real faces to a societal challenge we don’t talk about nearly enough.