If men are the “bread winners” of a family, then it’s the women who are the backbone. At least that’s always been true in my family. My dad would bring home a bigger paycheck but my mom would be the one to stretch the last dollar to feed and cloth five children. The same goes for my grandmother, my great grandmother and her mother before her. They could take care of sick kids and husbands while being sick themselves. At 86, my great grandmother is still taking care of everyone. If she isn’t on her porch swing bouncing a baby, you will find her in the vegetable garden or at the stove canning vegetables and sending them home with anyone who could use them. She took care of her mother until she passed away at 93 years of age. Then she took care of my grandfather and proceeded to outlive him as well as two of her children.
According to a recent article by the Huffington Post, caregiving by a family member is a rapidly growing experience. There are about 42.1 million family caregivers in the United States (most of them women ages 40 to 60).
I can’t help but think, who will take care of my grandmother and the other women like her? As I watch her shoulders droop with age and hard work, as I watch her memory begin to fail her, I can’t help but think that even the strongest steel bends. My family is lucky. There are many of us who are willing and able to set aside time in our busy schedules to make sure she is cared for. But not all women are so lucky. They’re outliving their spouses and their children, leaving no one left to care for them. This is why it’s so important for children and parents to have that discussion now. Genworth has a great article featuring 7 things you should be discussing now.
With so much uncertainty in the world today, making sure you discuss this often overlooked topic with those you care about is well worth doing. Like having an emergency evacuation plan, you’ll thank yourselves and each other later.