Caring for Your Parents
The first in a series looking at taking care of Alaska's aging population
ANCHORAGE - Here at KTVA CBS 11 News, we’re starting a new series focusing on the challenges and opportunities surrounding one of the oldest populations in Alaska.
It’s a population growing faster here than anywhere else in the country.
CBS 11’s Lauren Maxwell introduces or re-introduces us to Alaska’s senior population and why caring for your parent is more of a reality than you think.
It’s a role reversal reality that many of us are falling into unexpectedly.
With this installment, we begin a weekly series called Caring for Your Parents... a look at the rapid growth of how adult children are spending more and more time caring for the ones who raised them. (Follow and join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #KTVAC4P.)
It’s called the silver tsunami. The baby boomer generation is about to flood our senior population with millions of people.
“By about 2020, we will have about 20 percent of our population over the age of 60,” said Linda Meyer, senior services coordinator for the Municipality of Anchorage’s Department of Health and Human Services. “We have a very large boomer population. When we look at that as a community, we are going to be faced with some opportunities and challenges.
Every day 8,000 people in the U.S. are celebrating their 65th birthday. The Alaska Commission on Aging released a report last year capturing what that means for us.
It found our senior population grew over 70 percent from 2000 to 2010.
“We are seeing a lot of people staying here rather than moving, because we are doing fairly well in terms of services and supports – better than some other states,” said Lisa Wawrzonek, education director of Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska.
The commission’s report found at least $1.7 billion is pumped into Alaska’s economy every year from seniors retiring and staying put.
A good portion of that money is spent on health care.
Dementia is one of the biggest health issues facing Alaska’s seniors. One of the most well known forms of dementia is Alzheimer’s.
“…And with our growing senior population, we are also going to have a growing population diagnosed with some form of dementia. Whether it’s Alzheimer’s, Lewy [Lewy Body dementia] or stroke related, 1 in 8, 65 or older, is going to be impacted. And it doesn’t just impact that person but also those caring for that person,” Wawrzonek, of Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, said.
And the face of the caregiver is increasingly becoming their adult children. Yes, the answer to who will take care of mom and dad… is you.
“The family caregiver is the primary care giver. Seven out of 10 people live with their family or in their home. The role reversal of this is my parent and now being in that parent role can create a lot of emotional stress,” said Wawrzonek.
It’s stress over things like independence. How can your parents maintain their independence when they can no longer do things independently?