October 16, 2009 (New York, NY)
Expressing gratitude for a loved one seen as a benefit amidst the challenges
The Internet is playing an important role in the lives of Baby Boomers who care for sick or elderly loved ones according to an online survey recently fielded by ThirdAge.com, a leading website site serving baby boomers and aging midlifers. A majority of respondents indicated that they are now, or anticipate in the future, seeking resources and information on caregiving online; many via search engines such as Google (51 percent), while 20 percent said they would turn to social networking sites dedicated to the topic. According to Sharon Whiteley, CEO of ThirdAge.com, this demonstrates the increasingly important role of computers and Internet resources in a technological age that fosters a new "take charge" attitude with healthcare issues.
"Compare the fact that only 40 percent believe they would turn to a doctor or health care professional to the number turning to the Internet," Whiteley observed. "This is an important measure of where people seek information, support and advice, and shows that today's mid-lifers are pro-actively seeking solutions online, even for these sensitive, emotionally-charged family healthcare issues."
The study was conducted online by ThirdAge at www.thirdage.com with over 1,300 respondents 40+ years of age; 67 percent were female and 33 percent male. Whiteley noted that historically, women have assumed the role of caregiver in families, whether they self identify or not; and that the strong interest in the questions among women is reflective of that continued family responsibility. With an estimated 78 million individuals who fall into the so-called Baby Boomer generation - born between 1946 and 1964, and that with more than 60 percent of survey respondents saying that they are currently responsible, or have in the past, been responsible for the healthcare needs of a sick or elderly person, the implications are staggering. In addition to those who have in the past or are now responsible for caring for an elderly or sick person, 45 percent of respondents indicated that they anticipate providing care for aging parents or other relatives in the future. This group is very aptly named 'the sandwich generation,' caring for aging parents and relatives, even as they juggle the needs of their own children and spouses. When asked how these responsibilities impacted their lives, the majority of respondents - almost 53 percent indicated it has allowed them to show gratitude to a loved one. Another 26 percent said that these responsibilities have given them a sense of purpose in life. "The majority of responses to this question emphasized the positive aspects of caring for an elderly loved one, but the emotional, financial and physical challenges to mid-lifers with this responsibility cannot be ignored," Whiteley emphasized. She pointed to the fact that 34 percent of survey respondents indicated that they have less free time and time to relax, 22 percent said they spend less time with other family members or friends, and 28 percent indicated they were "stressed" while 13 percent of respondents went so far as to say they were overwhelmed. "It is clearly an issue that is impacting the lives of this generation. The resources that are available - online and in the community - will be part of the redefining of family healthcare in the future," said Whiteley. The study was conducted online by ThirdAge at www.thirdage.com with over 1,300 respondents 40+ years of age; 67 percent were female and 33 percent male. The survey was fielded in July-August, 2009.