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Elder Care Part of the "Sandwich" Generation

Updated on June 3, 2014

Caregiving Is Not Always Easy

Elder Care Part of the "Sandwich" Generation. Families have undergone many change in the last few decade and caring plays a big role. The average lifespan of our society has risen and the incidence of single-parenting has become an acceptable standard. If your one of those people between approximately the ages of 35-60 you may be part of what has been coined the "Sandwich" generation you could be providing health services.

The member of this elite group called the" Sandwich " generation are the individual that make-up a group of people who take care of both the needs of their adult children and provide elder care for aging parents. Are you one of the lucky member? If you are you know the toll it takes on your life. You are constantly under pressure and sandwiched between both child and parents taking of both ends of the aging spectrum. You often forsake your own needs for the sake of these individuals. You're not alone!

Many aging adults have outlived the retirement funds by as much as 10 to 15 years. They find themselves left with little to subsist and need the financial assistant of their adult children. Many find themselves moving in with their children making them feel as though they have little to look forward to in their "golden" years. At the same time their adult children are busy caring for their children. These children can range in ages and further complex the situation. If you are a "sandwich" generation adult you know what I am taking about here.

The real problem lies not with the care taking but the lack of time available to care for oneself. These individual have little to no time to care for their own needs and find that they suffer mentally, physically, and socially in their own lives. Having been a "sandwiched" adult I have a few tips that I would like to share with you.

Photo: You never think that one day "YOU" will be the one that needs to be care taken.

More information about the "sandwich" generation

Helpful books and products are available to help you cope with the trials of being sandwiched between kids and aging parents.

Depend Adjustable Underwear, Large/X-Large, 16-Count Packages (Pack of 4)
Depend Adjustable Underwear, Large/X-Large, 16-Count Packages (Pack of 4)

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Quiet and comfortable

Made in the USA from domestic and imported materials

 
Medline Guardian Bath Bench with Back
Medline Guardian Bath Bench with Back

Increased user comfort comes from the generous, high-density polyethylene seat and back (20"W x 12"D) and angled legs that distribute weight over a larger area

Suction-cup tips on all four legs provide even more stability and safety

Built-in hand grips

Durable anodized aluminum frame is rust resistant and has a 250-lb. weight capacity

Seat height adjusts from 14.5 - 19.5" (37 - 49.5 cm)

 
Stander EZ Adjust and Pivoting Adult Home Bed Rail/Swing Down Assist Handle with Pouch
Stander EZ Adjust and Pivoting Adult Home Bed Rail/Swing Down Assist Handle with Pouch

Adjustable length allows for use as both a bed rail to prevent falling out of bed or as a hand rail to assist in getting out of bed

Bed rail easily adjusts from 26 to 34 to 42 after it has been placed on the bed

Rail folds down to side of bed to allow user to get out of bed or provide space for making bed

Can be placed on either side of the bed

Attaches to any home or hospital bed with included safety strap

 

How to cope and what to do NOW!

There are several things that we learned that may help you.

1. Have the "TALK". before problems arise talk to your parents and determine what they desire, include sibling in on the conversation..

2. Consider the options available. Home care vs. Nursing Facilities.

3. Make a budget. Discuss finances with your parents, know where they stand.

4. Make legal arrangements. Power of attorney, Durable Power of attorney for health, Living Wills, DNR-Do not resuscitate order.

5. Determine health coverages

6. Compare the cost of caregivers vs nursing facilities. Many facilities have waiting lists get on them early.

7. Check public benefits that might be available

8. Beware of Scams. There are many people looking for seniors to prey upon. Phone scams, door to door scams, etc.

9. Plan your retirement

10. If you are having trouble coping get professional help. Talk to your doctor.

Take time for yourself to prevent stress related illness

Take time for yourself to prevent stress related illness
Take time for yourself to prevent stress related illness

Our First Caretaking Experiences

Our Life 20 years Ago

Aunty Zella was a spitfire of a woman. She had traveled the country by herself after having outlived 2 husbands. A the age of 102 she came to my husband and told him she wanted to get rid of her care. She had scared herself one traveling to the other side of town and once she got there she couldn't remember why she had gone. At the age of 90 she asked my husband if he would look out for her. As she said at the time, "The old biddy won't be around much longer". He promised to watch over her, and as a family we visited with her regularly and tended to her needs.

She lived in a senior high rise apartment at the age of 92 after having her purse snatched in her old Detroit neighborhood. There she lived, helping those less fortunate than her. She rolled bandages for cancer patients, knit hat and blankets for the children's hospital, and made scarves for the homeless. Being in her 90's didn't stop her from much.

She was a proud woman and spoke of her deceased husband Jimmy often. She spoke of him as if it were just yesterday that they were together. It wasn't until her death that we can to realize he had died in 1936.

Zella thought us many lessons. She showed us that caring for other was important, and that getting older didn't mean you were helpless or worthless. She proved that by the way she lived her life. We knew things were getting more and more difficult for her but we didn't know how to handle at the time. It wasn't until the manager from the apartment complex called and told us that people were complaining that she had the odor of needing a bath. It was then that we stepped in and hired a nurse to come in and help her with daily hygiene. She resented it and believed that she could do it for herself/

We sat down with her and had one of the most difficult conversation that we had ever had with her. She finally agreed she would do it our way. Then one day the call came from the apartment manager, informing us that the nurse failed to arrive for Zella's hygiene and she had tried to get into the bath by herself and had fallen, hitting her head on the commode.

She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and when we arrived we could tell she had no idea who we were. Being a clever woman she tried to pretend she was OK, looking about the room for clues of where she was. She had suffered a closed head injury, she was unable to walk, and the hospital would not release her until we could arrange for a new living arrangement.

This was a difficult situation since she didn't know who we were, and why we were telling her what she needed to do. Finally, we found an assisted-living center for her. There she was miserable, she refused to leave the bed, not wanting to eat or care for herself. We hired a full-time nursing staff for her, soon realizing that she would be broke if we couldn't find better arrangements.

First, we had to go to court the be appointed as her legal power of attorney. It was then that we found out she wasn't really related to my husband at all. She was his grandmother best friend, who everyone call "Aunty Zella". The judge found the story amusing and appointed us guardianship.

Following this we found a nursing home at the end of our street that would provide her with excellent care. It turned out that the owner was a friend of mine, and when his parents own another nursing facility I had worked there with him to pay my way through college. He saw to it that she was treated as a queen.

About 10 months into her stay, I had gone for my daily visited and discovered she was not in her room and her wheelchair was folded against the wall. My heart dropped. I asked the nurse and she told me that Zella decided she could walk. As I walked down the hall to find her on her way to dinner, commenting in disgust that these "old people sure are slow."

Zella remained in the nursing home until a couple of weeks before her 104th birthday. She closed her eyes and passed onto the other side. I hope she is with her "Jimmy"!

Go fishing take a vacation find time to relax

Go fishing take a vacation find time to relax
Go fishing take a vacation find time to relax

Celebrate Life

Celebrate Life
Celebrate Life

They served as contibuting citizens

Where do we go from here?

Our family situation - A photo of my husband father and other relative returning from WWII

Zella had paved the way for what we were in for next. Several years had passed and my father was diagnosed with cancer, my mother-in-law with Alzheimer's disease, and my father-in-law with a failing heart. From the lessons we learned with Zella, we knew we had to take charge and avoid some of the problems we had come up against then. We insisted on having Wills completed and were appointed durable power of attorney for each of them. This was a step in the right direction.

However, my husband's parents lived in Mississippi and we lived in Michigan, and so did my father. As things progress for my mother-in-law, I left from work every other Friday and flew down to Mississippi to see that everything was still under control down there. I would grocery shop, cook the food, freeze and label it with reheating direction so my father-in-law could reheat it until I returned 2 weeks later.

This was the year my husband and I were offered a buy out incentive to retire from our teaching jobs in Detroit. My husband had enough time in to collect his pension, but I still had quite a few year to go. I did qualify for the monetary pay-out, so we both retired that year from our positions. Our youngest daughter was also graduating from high school. We had some property we purchased in the same neighborhood as the in-laws, so we built a house in Mississippi. By this time my father had made a full recovery from cancer and decided to purchase a home behind my in-laws.

At the time this seemed to be the solution to all of our problems. Little did we realize at the time that it was soon becoming the most stressful time in our lives. My father wouldn't listen to me and my husband parent refuse to listen to him. So, I made decision for his parents and he did the same for my father. Needless to say we lived through these times learning many of the complication that arise from caretaking.

Get Plenty Of Rest-catch a nap wherever you can

Get Plenty Of Rest-catch a nap wherever you can
Get Plenty Of Rest-catch a nap wherever you can

Go for a walk

Go for a walk
Go for a walk

Emergency phone - We had these for our parents

This phone comes with 2 emergency transmitters which are worn or carried, Keep them with your loved one at all times, they can call emergency numbers at the push of a button. This is a MUST HAVE!

We programed them to call us, then a neighbor, and 911. They give you peace of mind for senior living independently.

Geemarc Ampli600 Amplified Emergency Connect Phone
Geemarc Ampli600 Amplified Emergency Connect Phone

A phone that call for help when you need it.

 

You Opinion is Important

Take a few second to share you comments.

How are you coping?

Are you caught between a rock and a hard place caring for both parents and children?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Luckily, my parents were able to stay in their home right up to their final illness. My 3 sisters took them to the doctors, brought food, and helped in so many ways. I feel badly that I wasn't close by to help out.

      You family stories here are precious and you will want to print them out to save for children and grandchildren.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Luckily, my parents were able to stay in their home right up to their final illness. My 3 sisters took them to the doctors, brought food, and helped in so many ways. I feel badly that I wasn't close by to help out.

      You family stories here are precious and you will want to print them out to save for children and grandchildren.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 4 years ago from Washington KS

      This is an excellent lens that shares in great detail the problem elder care presents in the world today.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and providing solutions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Peanut butter and Jelly. Yes I am. I had the talk with one parent and they left the rehab center and went home. It's really difficult. I know one day I'll have to deal with this situation. I haven't stopped talking to myself yet. Thanks for this lens on a topic that will affect us all.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      This is the first time that I've heard this term. I expect that with the aging Baby Boom generation, more people will find themselves in this situation.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      My sister (bless her heart) cared for both my dad and my mom in their elder years. Both have passed on but my sister truly is an angel on Earth for all that she gave.

    • LaughingLady LM profile image

      Helen Phillips Cockrell 4 years ago from Virginia

      This is a great lens! I worked in Aging Services for years and still blog about healthy aging and baby boomers. Great job! Blessed!

    • junkcat profile image

      junkcat 4 years ago

      I'm trying to do my best, but my grandmother is not coopertating

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      The "sandwich" generation is a difficult place to be, find the help you need to survive