A recent PBS special focused on tending to older parents and other struggles faced by many with elder care needs. In a special program called “Caring for Mom and Dad,” the station attempted to go deeper into the issues surrounding adult children as they attempt to care for their aging parents. It is one of the first times that a major television station has run a program that focuses on the difficult questions of cost, rights, and medical capabilities of elder care.
Caring for Mom and Dad
Narrated by acclaimed actress Meryl Streep, the program starts with a well-known fact, “America is facing a new reality. Soon the old will outnumber the young, and most will live longer than ever before.” The program focuses on a few families and their unique struggles with elder care as well as the sacrifices that they have made in order to care for their aging parents. However, the program also looks at the costs for caring for ailing parents at home, both financially and emotionally.
One of the commentators on the special, Jane Gross, bluntly stated that “There are many scenarios in which by the time this is over, Mom and Dad are broke and so are you.” However, the program also focused on what some communities are doing to address the current problems surrounding elder care, such as southwestern Ohio. “If we want in this country to not institutionalize everyone who’s old or disabled, if we want to care for them in the community, that means the community has to step up.”
The Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio has taken great strides in addressing the needs of the elderly in their community. The initiative put forth in the area that was proposed by the Council on Aging taxes residents and uses the money to provide home health aides and pay for other necessary expenses for their elderly citizens.
This system implemented around the area prevents many seniors in the area from becoming institutionalized in a nursing home facility and cuts costs for them and their families for their elder care needs. In addition, the program in southwestern Ohio is providing jobs for home health care workers that might otherwise struggle to find work.
However, paying for some of the costs of care is only part of the solution, and “Caring for Mom and Dad” only just started to delve into the many issues surrounding elder care. Issues like addressing the number of elderly caretakers and how they should be trained were not addressed in the program, nor did it address the potential medical and ethical issues of sustaining life for seniors as long as possible with advances in technology. However, this special was a great start for conversations that need to be had at home as well as in society at large regarding the issues surrounding elder care needs across the country.