WASHINGTON: You promise “in sickness and in health,” but a new poll shows becoming a caregiver to a frail spouse causes more stress than having to care for mom, dad or even the in-laws.
Americans 40 and older say they count on their families to care for them as they age, with good reason: Half of them already have been caregivers to relatives or friends, the poll found.
But neither the greying population nor the loved ones who expect to help them are doing much planning for long-term care. In fact, people are far more likely to disclose their funeral plans to friends and family than reveal their preferences for assistance with day-to-day living as they get older, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
And while eight in 10 people who have been caregivers called it a positive experience, it’s also incredibly difficult.
“Your relationship changes. Life as you know it becomes different,” said Raymond Collins, 62, of Houston, who retired early in part to spend time with his wife, Karen. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago, her mobility has deteriorated enough that she now uses a wheelchair.
Collins, a former business manager for an oil company, said he has felt stress, frustration and, at times, anger.
Still, he said caregiving has strengthened his marriage commitment.
While seven in 10 who cared for a spouse said their relationship grew stronger as a result, nearly two-thirds said it caused stress in their family compared with about half among those who cared for a parent.
With a rapidly aging population, more families will face those responsibilities: Government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after they reach age 65. Yet just 20 percent of those surveyed think it is likely they will need such care someday.