Saturday, November 20, 2010


I'm half way done with my paper. I'm learning all kinds of things that I didn't sign up to care to know, but they're interesting nonetheless. The above table is difficult to see. The top is from 1950, the middle from 1990 and the bottom projected to 2030. It represents population. The dark blue represents "developed countries". The light blue represents "developING countries". On the right represents females and on the left represents males. This is what is proverbially called, "the writing on the wall". That scurrying sound you hear are some running back to place their heads back in the sand...or other places where there is no sunshine.

My focus of interest via psychoneuroimmunology, is the "care of caregivers", particularly caregivers of dementia patients. They have a unique set of circumstances that predispose them to certain stress-related illnesses, secondary to their exposure to the chronic stress that comes with being a caregiver for SUCH A LONG TIME. The average time a caregiver takes care of a dementia patient is 4.6 yrs ( It is not unusual for instance, for a wife to be the full time caregiver of her elderly husband who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). She ends up having to dress him, feed him, bathe him, etc. She spends all of their money on him. Eventually, she develops a stress-related, immunocompromised disease, such as breast cancer and dies before him. I'm talking about a "developed country" kind of scenario.

And now, due to prolonged lifespans and decreased fertility, we have fewer people behind us to care for the older generation. The infrastructure is not prepared to house or feed or care for those who will be diagnosed with AD or other dementias, which, by the way, increase several fold every 5 years after the age of 65. By the year 2050, there will be over 60 million caregivers needed to help with the demand.

Sooo....I don't have any answers. I've looked at the zero-population theories. We really really need our "emergency back up generation". Not just to hold the bed pan, but to, you know, keep doing our procreating thing. I imagine that we'll get creative and come up with group homes for elders and other alternatives. We'll figure it out. It'll go back to family. They'll be a pandemic or something. Wow....I just jumped out of a Hallmark card, eh? I'm going to do you a favor and go right back to my paper. And then I promise to be more pleasant tomorrow. But for the record...

I don't think Heaven has borders. I'm guessing there's one language. And I KNOW there are no bed pans.


Daisy said...

Talking about alzheimers reminds me of one of my girl (lady) friends. Her mother had alzheimers. There wasn't much money so my friend ended up caring for her mother. Her own health really suffered with the constant care being given her mother. It was VERY sad.

This is a real concern with now all the baby boomers becoming senior citizens. Myself included. I can't see either one of my daughters manning up to care for me if the time comes.

The Katzbox said...

Daisy, I can hear your concern in your words. It's a real problem, but here's what I know about the "boomers"-we are nothing if not creative and just selfish enough to figure out a way to take care of ourselves. :)

All will be well. Let's keep in touch in case we work out that whole group housing thing. We could get in lots of fun trouble!

jojo said...

My training is in OT and I can see caring for a demetia ridden person killing someone. You pray for clear moments, but watching the progression is nothing but sad. I pray that I go out fast and do not end up a dependant mess with my own auto-immune mess of m.s. One can hope and pray anyway. Good area of focus.

The Katzbox said...

thanks JoJo. I must say that my sister and niece have inspired me. They actually live here. I have to travel from California several times a year to stay, but it's a win/win. They get some time off and I get to hang out with mom full time.

I didn't know about the MS. Let's stay connected with each other, if you don't mind.

thinking of you.

Daisy said...

Debbie~ We really do need to stay in touch!!! OMG!!! We could get ourselves in so much trouble!!!