Didn’t August seem like it rushed by like an Indy car racing down the front straightaway? And in just a few days it will be Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer and the official federal holiday established in 1894 to honor the “the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country”. (I didn’t know that in 1887 Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day an official public holiday.) One segment of the labor force that is largely undervalued and unappreciated but essential to the health and well-being of millions of older adults are caregivers.
That includes the professional caregivers who are paid to care for older adults so they can continue to live in their homes or so the adult children can continue working while caring for their parents. There are also the family caregivers, generally unpaid, who often feel obligated to care for their loved ones to make sure they are comfortable and safe – while personally enduring the stress and strain of trying to balance caregiving with everything else in their lives. It is emotionally difficult – often creating a mix of exhaustion, guilt, and resentment that grows stronger the longer the caregiving continues.
Today it is estimated there are 34.2 million caregivers in the United States whose contribution to the U.S. economy is worth roughly $470 billion per year. That is a lot of greenbacks. And yet the need for caregivers is outpacing the supply – and is expected to get worse. You can imagine why. We are living longer and have raised smaller families with our children moving to all parts of the country. Increasingly over the next couple of decades, those of us who will need care, and that will probably be most of us, caring for us will fall upon these caregivers whether they are our spouses, our adult children (if they still live nearby), hired caregivers, or a combination of all three.
But there are efforts underway to find solutions to ease the burden and address the challenges of caregiving such as addressing the cost of in-home care – since many can’t afford it; creating a more flexible work environment so adult children can spend time to care for a loved one, and providing the financial, emotional, and training supports for both professional and family caregivers. Hopefully caregivers and their families will be able to take advantage of some of these changes in the near future.
As we enjoy the Labor Day weekend and celebrate the workers who are the backbone of our nation’s economy, let’s not forget the professional and family caregivers who labor tirelessly to support the health and well-being of millions of older adults.
I thought it might be a good time to remind everyone that if you have unwanted or out of date prescriptions or over the counter medicines (except sharps, medical waste or equipment, combustibles, and inhalers), you can conveniently dispose of them by dropping them off at the drop box inside the police station downtown. The drop off box is a community service of YOUTHTHINK, Mid-Columbia Medical Center and City of The Dalles Police Department to keep prescription drugs and over the counter medications from our children and out of our streams.
The name of the panel game show where two contestants played tic-tac-toe to win cash and prizes was Hollywood Squares. Correct answers were submitted by Kim Birge, Jeannie Pesicka, Lana Tepfer (and I have this déjà vu feeling that I’ve missed someone again!), and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket (and a free ice cream cone) Merle Gearhart. Once again, I missed Sharon Hull and Sam Bilyeu from last week who also win a quilt raffle ticket each.
For this week’s “Remember When” question who was the arranger and conductor for Nat King Cole’s hit “Mona Lisa”, but was probably better known for arranging and conducting the orchestra for Frank Sinatra including their first hit together “I’ve Got the World on a String”? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the three albums he arranged for Linda Ronstadt in the 1980’s.
‘The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it.” Anne Bancroft
Well, it’s been another week, confused and bewildered. Until we meet again, appreciate the little pleasures we often miss.