Sympathizing with the 40 million Americans serving as an unpaid caregiver for a sick family member, actor Rob Lowe highlighted a "vast looming problem" for healthcare in America as Baby Boomers enter the twilight of their lives.
"The mental, physical and emotional stress of caregiving (which often goes unreported and untreated until it's too late) has created a vast looming problem for our healthcare system, yet few caregivers feel comfortable discussing these challenges," Lowe wrote in an opinion piece for USA Today.
Lowe recounted his caring for his mother throughout stage 4 breast cancer in offering encouragement for those millions doing the same for the loved ones, which includes about 109 million millennials, according to Lowe.
"Caregiving for a loved one is a role that millions more Americans will take on in the coming decades — especially with so many Baby Boomers saying they want to age in place instead of entering retirement homes or care facilities," Lowe wrote. "There are many upsides to being cared for by devoted and well-trained family caregivers, including a reduction in hospital readmissions and a chance for families to bond during a difficult time.
"But the caregivers themselves often end up paying a high cost, both physically and financially, which is rarely discussed."
Lowe cited a 2017 Embracing Carers survey that revealed caregivers suffer from:
- Depression (49 percent).
- Sleep trouble (57 percent).
- Weight fluctuation (46 percent).
"And that's before stress related to money even enters the discussion," Lowe wrote.
Caregivers sacrifice almost $3 trillion a year in lost wages, pensions, and Social Security benefits, Lowe wrote, including $7,000 on average each caregiver personally spends on care, citing a recent MetLife study.
"The more aware we are of the realities of caregiving, the more actions we can take to improve the experience for everyone," Lowe concluded.
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