The New York Times story series looks at those 85 and older

According to the Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, unpaid caregivers provide 90 percent of long-term care for the old or disabled. Like old age itself, the job arrives unbidden and with little in the way of guidance, to be managed more than mastered.

The New York Times is writing a series of stories that looks at how a group of people who are 85 years of age and older are managing life in New York City.

The series offers insight into a number of aging topics.

A recent piece started like this: “John Sorensen stood in the entryway of his Upper West Side apartment with a fresh bruise spreading over his upper arm and a blood-smeared bandage around one shin.

Mr. Sorensen, 91, had fallen in his kitchen — he said he did not recall how — and was still unsteady on his feet.”

The story takes a look at the woman – who’s not a relative – who manages Sorensen’s care. She has a full time job and manages the care of three elderly relatives: her mother and both of her husband’s parents.

The story continues: “Recently, two of Sorensen’s three home attendants were on vacation and missed their weekly visits. Among the jobs the three share is refilling Mr. Sorensen’s prescriptions, including the one for the ‘sleeping pills’ — actually antidepressants — without which he cannot drift off at night.

“By the time his third aide’s rotation came around, the pills were nearly gone; the drugstore had none on hand and had to order more.”

His primary caregiver arrived at Sorensen’s apartment to find him “bloody, bruised and lonely. He had not slept in two days, he said, and had dropped to the floor from lightheadedness.”

The story cites a recent report: The Rand Corporation estimated last year that Americans spend 30 billion hours annually caring for older relatives and friends, with most of them juggling caregiving along with jobs, families and other demands on their time.

Unfortunately, there are few easy answers.

To read more of the series, visit: