Last July, Julie Baldocchi's mother had a massive stroke and was paralyzed. Baldocchi suddenly had to become a family caregiver, something that she wasn't prepared for.
"I was flying by the seat of my pants," says Baldocchi, an employment specialist in San Francisco. Both of her parents are 83, and she knew her father couldn't handle her mother's care.
The hospital recommended putting her mother in a nursing home. Baldocchi wasn't willing to do that. But moving her back into her parents' home created other problems.
With help from the Family Caregiver Alliance, she eventually hired a live-in caregiver. "But even if you plan intellectually and legally, you're never ready for the emotional impact," Baldocchi says. In the first two months after her mother's stroke, she lost about 30 pounds as stress mounted.
More than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult who needs help with daily activities, according to a 2009 survey by the AARP. An additional 61.6 million provided at least some care during the year.
And many are unprepared.
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Caring for Elderly Parents Catches Many Unprepared