Caregiving isn’t limited to blood relatives

Kevin Magna

October 20, 2011

Caregiving isn't limited to blood relativesAs divorce and remarriage continues to occur throughout the U.S. and the world, who takes care of Mom or Dad as they age has taken on a new shape. Traditionally, children are the ones who step up and take on the responsibility of providing care and support to their parents as they age. However, with stepchildren and stepparents, who takes care of whom has become more blurred.

To test this, University of Missouri Professor Lawrence Ganong surveyed participants on the matter. Those in the study answered questionnaires that had hypothetical caregiving scenarios involving a senior parent or stepparent and a child or stepchild. They were asked to decide who should provide care based on each scenario. From the data, Ganong found that most people chose the caregiver to be the person who had the best relationship with the senior, regardless of whether or not they were blood related.

"The idea that family obligations are based on genetic ties is not true for most Americans," said Ganong in the study. "How close family members are to each other, how much they have been helped by them in the past, and what hardships caregiving might place on family members are important factors when people consider caring for older kin."

One way to ensure a loved one is safe in their home is to install a medical alert system. These devices allow seniors to call either their caregiver or medical professionals if they fall.