21st Century Caregiving
In this day and age, caregiving is a social issue. It is of concern to policy makers and politicians at the federal, state and local levels; employers; insurers, and healthcare providers. It is a topic of discussion in faith communities and the subject of research in universities. Today, caregiving is much more than a personal family issue. It is the issue of our age because it will sooner or later affect every family in America and we are not prepared, either as individuals or as a society, to deal with it.
Then and Now
Of course families have always taken care of their ill or disabled loved ones. Neighbors helped neighbors if they didn't have family around, and even communities helped care for the ill among them, but the nature of caregiving has changed radically.
In the past --
- Families didn't provide care for as many years as we do
- Families didn't care for loved ones who are as ill, aged, or disabled as we do
- Families didn't live in a highly mobile society as we do
- Families didn't care for loved ones when so many women were employed and waited until their thirties or even early forties to have children
- Families didn't provide care at a time when healthcare costs and the question of who should pay for them were such an issue of concern.
- Families didn't provide care at a time when medical science had unlocked secrets about how to save and extend lives in ways that were previously unimaginable, and
- Families didn't care for loved ones at a time when the average age of the population was on the rise and baby boomers would soon be entering their senior years.
It is for all these reasons that caregiving is so very different today than it ever was before.
These are some of the reasons our healthcare system tends not to be responsive to the needs of caregiving families.