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Expert Pitch: FSU experts available to comment on trending topics in 21st century caregiving

Dawn Carr, assistant professor of sociology
Dawn Carr, assistant professor of sociology

As families come together this holiday season, the topic of elderly loved ones and their care may come up at the dinner table. Are they fit to live alone? Should they be placed in a home? Is at-home care an option? How much will it cost? These are important questions to consider when faced with the difficult decision about how to care for older adults.

Experts affiliated with Florida State University are available to comment on caregiving topics:

CAREGIVING DEMANDS

Miles G. Taylor, associate professor, Department of Sociology mtaylor3@fsu.edu; (850) 644-5418

Taylor’s research examines the way early life statuses and experiences shape access to resources and the progression of physical, functional and mental health as individuals age into and throughout older adulthood. Her work also regularly examines family relationships at different stages of the life course.

“Caregiving is more complex than ever. There are more older adults, but fewer caregivers in families due to reduced family sizes and increasingly diverse family forms. Care recipients have greater medical needs and treatments, and the health care landscape is difficult to navigate. Caregivers need to ‘count’ many forms of care in their assessments of time and burden to provide an accurate picture of what caregiving entails today. Policymakers and the health care sector need to consider the increasingly complex demands placed on caregivers in discussions of long-term care.”

Dawn Carr, assistant professor, Department of Sociology
dccarr@fsu.edu; (850) 644-2833

Carr’s ongoing interdisciplinary research focuses on understanding the complex pathways between health and active engagement during later life, especially the impact of transitions in health, productivity and caregiving. Much of her work on caregiving examines the challenges that come with becoming widowed in later life, particularly in terms of changes in cognitive performance, physical function and loneliness.

“Providing care for a loved one at the end of life is stressful and often physically demanding, with those caring for individuals with dementia facing particularly challenging circumstances. However, once that individual passes, we not only lose an important social role, we lose someone we cared deeply about. Losing a spouse is especially difficult, with widows disproportionately more likely to face persistent loneliness, which can have a significant impact on our physical and cognitive health. Some people adjust to this loss better than others. For those who lose a loved one, it can be helpful to start volunteering on a regular basis, or engage in another activity that enhances opportunities to stay socially engaged with others.”

LONG-TERM CARE

Jill Quadagno, professor emerita, Department of Sociology and Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy
jquadagno@fsu.edu; (850) 508-6729 

Quadagno’s research has focused on the development and growth of the key public programs for older people including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She has conducted studies of assisted living facilities in Florida and is an expert on long-term care.

“Most people will need some type of support as they grow older, and yet there are few sources of payment for long-term care needs. Although some people have purchased private long-term care insurance to pay for personal care outside a nursing home, many older people have the mistaken belief that Medicare covers these costs. As the baby boomers grow older, our main public policy challenge is to ensure that people have access to affordable and high-quality care.”