I had the unusual opportunity of growing up in a three-generation household where, one by one, as circumstance dictated, my parents took in each of their parents (not to mention other periodic immigrating family members along the way). Most modern families, however, can’t sustain this arrangement, whether it’s due to logistical, emotional, or medical constraints. For this reason especially, I was extremely impressed when I learned about Care.com.
Care.com coordinates thousands of care and service providers in more than 20 major cities across the US to provide families with choices for senior care (companions, in-home caregivers, respite care providers, hospice nurses, assisted living facilities, nursing homes), child care (sitters, nannies, au pairs), tutors (great for parents who barely made it through algebra themselves), and pet care (sitters, walkers, day cares, kennels). With a free, basic membership, families can search Care.com’s database and receive email alerts when new providers in the area join the network. Paid subscribers (rates are as low as $10 a month) are able to access caregiver contact information and references and request free background checks.
While I love the multidimensional nature of Care.com's provider options, I have to admit that the topic of senior care in particular strikes a personal nerve. Said upbringing gave me an appreciation for the elder generation, as did my research years, during which I met and tested hundreds of kind and attentive elderly volunteers on speech perception experiments (ironically enough, sometimes they did better than their undergrad counterparts…). And the periodic medical crises that accompany families with longevity in the cards (Laurel has three grandparents and three great-grandparents) continues to remind me of the complex and diverse needs of the older generation. I just can’t help but wish that Care.com had been around a couple of years ago. Having dedicated so much life to taking care of his mother and in-laws, it breaks my heart that things moved so quickly, and we were so overwhelmed by the prospect of how to secure hospice care, that my father spent his final weeks in a hospital, not at home.