Caregivers: Alzheimer's Other Victims

Fighting the Stress: Advice for Families

As the U.S. population ages, the problems of caregiving are becoming increasingly common. According to a survey by the Opinion Research Corporation, more than 138 million Americans can expect to provide care for a loved one in the future.

But Morris says some of the problems associated with caring for a loved one can be alleviated with some advanced planning.

"It's easier to talk about [caregiving] before there's a crisis. It's never too soon to start planning," she says.

Hard as it is to have conversations about dying, Morris recommends talking to aging parents about their plans before they become sick.

Housing is one important issue to consider. "Many children think that parents want to live with them if they become ill, but that's not always the case," she said.

Morris also says families that thought they were financially stable can suddenly find themselves in dire straits if finances aren't discussed before an illness.

Finally, Morris urges parents to update their wills and to appoint power of attorney and a healthcare proxy in order to prevent any potential confusion, should they become ill. "We all say that we wouldn't want a prolonged death in a hospital, but the majority of us end up with that."

Despite the myriad challenges associated with caring for an ailing loved one, Morris believes this painful scenario can also be rewarding.

"Some children become incredibly close to their parents. They're glad they had the chance to take care of them."

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