"There are only four kinds of people in the world:
those who have been caregivers,
those who are currently caregivers,
those who will be caregivers,
and those who need caregiving."
— Rosalyn Carter
More than 42.5 million Americans are now providing care for an elder family member. Of them, 20 million are in the sandwich generation struggling to hold things together between younger and older relatives. But with the population over the age of 85 now the fastest growing demographic in America, the current care crisis will only get worse. In a 2013 AARP poll caregivers say that their lives are characterized by less happiness, less satisfaction with social life, less exercise, and weight gain.
Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and co-director of The Caring Across America Generations campaign, is a winner of a 2011 MacArthur "genius" grant. Through her work, she is on top of the crises forming around health care, the long lived, and caregiving. By 2018 demand for home care workers will increase by more than 90%. Those in need of support are 4.5 million Americans, a group expected to be four times as large by 2050. Many of the existing eldercare workers are low-income African-Americans and immigrant women who work for low wages, long hours, and with inadequate training.
The most precious services eldercare workers provide are physical and emotional: compassion, tenderness, and listening. On this foundation, Poo challenges us to build trust and a willingness to let go of outmoded ideas and ideals. To insure every elder a future with dignity, the author suggests that home care supported by professionals is the wave of the future. Poo discusses some eldercare policies being created by states and ends on a hopeful note that caregiving will appeal to more people as the years go by. There is also a helpful appendix with resources for families and another on ways to get involved.