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Painfully straight talk about caring for aging parents

Posted by BJ Roche  May 22, 2012 09:35 PM

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For a long time, it seemed like the costs and stresses of senior caregiving was one of those huge silent burdens being shared by women of a certain age.

Well, it wasn't really silent if you got talking to someone -- a co-worker or friend who was in the same boat. A friend who works in the counseling field tells me that much of her clientele are women trying to manage the emotional and financial stresses of caring for their moms.

But now the costs, difficulties, and societal impact of caring for aging parents in decline has taken center stage in the media, most profoundly in Michael Wolff's detailed and honest account of his family's struggle to care for his mother in this week's New York Magazine, A Life Worth Ending.

Sandra Tsing Loh opened the gates back in March with her Atlantic article, Daddy Issues: Why caring for my aging father has me wishing he would die.

And NPR has been running a series that resonates for anyone whose got a pile of college tuition bills on the desk next to mom's Medicare paperwork.

Stark stuff, with no easy answers.

It would be nice to think that these pieces might launch a serious public policy discussion of the realities of old old age, the costs of end-of-life care, and its impact on families. As Wolff points out:

In 1990, there were slightly more than 3 million Americans over the age of 85. Now there are almost 6 million. By 2050 there will be 19 million — approaching 5 percent of the population.

But we're not counting on it.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

BJ Roche is a writer and teacher who lives in Western Massachusetts. She’s a senior lecturer in the Journalism Program at UMass Amherst, where she teaches writing, new media and More »

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