Elder Care Part of the "Sandwich" Generation
Caregiving Is Not Always Easy
Elder Care Part of the "Sandwich" Generation. Families have changed in the last few decades, and caring play a significant role. The average lifespan of our society has risen, and the incidence of single-parenting has become an acceptable standard. If you are one of those people between 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 the individual who makes 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 members? If you are, you know the toll it takes on your life. You are constantly under pressure and sandwiched between child and parents taking off both ends of the aging spectrum. As a result, 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 exist and need the financial assistance 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 age and further complex the situation. If you are a "sandwich" generation adult, you know what I am talking about here.
The real problem lies not with the caretaking but the lack of time available to care for oneself. These individuals 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 taken care of.
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.
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
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 two husbands. At age 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. Finally, at the age of 90, she asked my husband if he would look out for her. As she said then, "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 hats 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 proud and spoke of her deceased husband, Jimmy, often. She said of him as if it were just yesterday that they were together. But unfortunately, it wasn't until her death that we can to realize he had died in 1936.
Zella taught us many lessons. She showed us that caring for others was necessary 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 difficult for her, but we didn't know how to handle them 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 challenging conversations we had ever had with her. She finally agreed she would do it our way. Then, one day, the apartment manager called to inform 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 about where she was. Unfortunately, she had suffered a closed head injury, she could not walk, and the hospital would not release her until we could arrange a new living arrangement.
This was a difficult situation since she didn't know who we were and why we told 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 related to my husband at all. Instead, she was his grandmother's best friend, who everyone calls "Aunty Zella." The judge found the story amusing and appointed our 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 owned another nursing facility, I worked there with him to pay my way through college. He saw to it that she was treated as a queen.
About ten 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 had 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 two weeks before her 104th birthday. Then, 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
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. So we insisted on completing Wills 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. So, as things progressed for my mother-in-law, I left work every other Friday and flew down to Mississippi to see that everything was still under control. I would grocery shop, cook the food, freeze it, and label it with reheating directions so my father-in-law could reheat it until I returned two 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 to collect his pension, but I still had quite a few years to go. However, I did qualify for the monetary pay-out, so we both retired that year. 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 solve all of our problems. Little did we realize then that it was soon becoming the most stressful time in our lives. My father wouldn't listen to me, and my husband's parents refused to listen to him. So, I decided for his parents, and he did the same for my father. We lived through these times, learning about many complications from caretaking.
Get Plenty Of Rest-catch a nap wherever you can
Go for a walk
Emergency phone - We had these for our parents
This phone comes with two emergency transmitters 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 programmed them to call us, then a neighbor, and 911. They give you peace of mind for seniors living independently.
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