When the doctor becomes the caregiver: a review for doctors caring for their elderly parents
Healthcare professionals spend a large part of their lives caring for others in the office, in the community and in the hospital. However, with people living longer, the role of the attending physician is often expanded to include the care of parents or elderly family members in a family setting. The objectives of this article are to understand the perspectives and personal considerations of health care providers who become caregivers of their parents and to examine useful strategies when assuming this role. Personal aspects such as work schedules and family interactions, as well as practical aspects such as home preparation and personal emergency response devices, among many other topics, are reviewed. This article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, but will offer tips on how to anticipate and prepare for these life changing events. We aim to make this article relevant to physicians of all ages, as many younger physicians take responsibility for the care of their parents even during their medical training or residency. Although it is written with the accounts of 2 clinicians caring for their aging parents, the principles discussed can be applied to anyone in any profession caring for a parent with a new chronic illness. or a life changing condition.
The evolving challenge
According to data from the 2014 US Census Bureau, there will be huge and continued growth and diversity of the over-50 population over the coming decades. (1) The evolution of life expectancy, the aging of the population, the evolution of the modalities of medical care, cultural and financial considerations, as well as the constraints of reimbursement of health care have led to an increase in the demand for caregivers. (2) With more and more people living longer, caring for elderly parents is an increasingly important issue and one that perhaps many adult children are not ready to tackle. Studies have …