I've decided to make the Beard on Bread project a monthly endeavor instead of a weekly forced march. Bread dough is on the rise as I type this, but it's an oatmeal sunflower seed loaf that is a staple around here. It was one of my early blogs. I feel as though I'm breaking a New Year's resolution by backing out of my commitment to a new bread every week, but it is what it is!
Much of my attention has been focused away from the comfort of my kitchen, where the biggest problem is if a bread recipe fails, and I have to feed the results to the local squirrels. I've been thinking lately about the role of women as caregivers, especially in relation to elderly parents. So many of my friends are struggling with the same issues that it has really caused me to step back and take a look at what is going on in our society as a whole.
It's certainly a fact that people are living longer. As a generation, those of us in our sixties are breaking new ground in the area of being responsible for the care of parents in their nineties. Except in unusual circumstances, our parents' generation did not struggle with these issues. Unfortunately, that longevity is often compromised by Alzheimers and other degenerative disease that affects the quality of life.
Another issue is the fact that families are rarely in close proximity to one another. Caring for elderly family members is very often complicated by distance. I read an article recently that discussed the burgeoning field of providing services that allow elderly people to remain in their own homes. Caregivers are in demand on the cape primarily because we have an aging population, but also because family members often live elsewhere.
Other burgeoning fields are elder care attorneys and medicaid filing services. Medicaid forms are beyond the scope of the average person and require specialized attention to detail. Enter the service providers who, for a substantial fee, will smooth the path. Speaking of being beyond the scope of the average person, my parents are both in a nursing home on the North Shore. My mother has Alzheimers and my dad is what they refer to as a "two person transfer" due to his frailty. Fortunately, it is a well run facility that provides excellent care, but the cost for both of them is in excess of $700 per day. Needless to say, a Medicaid application is in the works.
In many ways, transferring their daily care over to a care facility has eased my physical burden, if not my worry about them. Trying to answer their increasing needs over the last few years while living over 100 miles away from them has been a challenge. And it's a challenge that I see repeated around me every day. Those of us in our mid-60s continue to break new ground and come up with new ideas to provide the best possible care for our aging parents and perhaps make our own aging a little easier for ourselves, or at least for our kids when it's their turn to deal with us!