July is Sandwich Generation Month. Members of this group care for their children as well as their aging parents. Sometimes it feels more like a tug of war with parents on one arm and your kids on the other—each needing you right now!
In 2008, my mother having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s alternated weeks between my sister’s home and mine. We did this for over two years before placing her in an assisted living facility where she currently resides. My sons, like many in their generation, are more dependent on us than we’d envisioned.
I am a member of the Sandwich Generation and I’m not alone. Increasing lifespans and the current economy contribute to the sandwich generation size. The truth is the number of aging parents and dependent children are on the rise.
The good news is that because we’re not alone, there are resources out there to help guide us through the maze of needs and deal with the emotional and financial drains. The looking can be daunting but with some networking and research the finds are worth it. Below are a few suggestions to help you navigate these unchartered waters.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
Sound a bit selfish? Not really. If you’re depleted of energy, resources, and health, you have nothing to offer others. We hired Granny sitters to go out or get away. College kids, a friend, maybe even those dependent adult children. And we let Mom pay for her own sitter when it was necessary. It gave my husband and me a chance to be us for a while.
I also started taking Mom to get her nails done. It got impossible for me to contort both of us so I could care for her feet. I found a nail spa that would do her hands and feet for $30—a bargain for my back. So once a month we both had our nails done.
You’re not a bad daughter if you can’t do everything. My sister and I both had to work. We found an Alzheimer’s Day Care facility and sent Mom there three to four days a week. She paid the cost. Our local dial-a-ride picked her up and brought her home—at a discounted rate for the senior and disabled. She enjoyed the bus ride as much or more than the day care. And it gave us scheduled days off.
We also took Mom with us on outings. Camping, picnics and found that accepting the help of our friends who were with us allowed us to enjoy some time. They visited with her, pushed her around the park in her wheelchair, and watched her while I went off to prepare a meal or go for a quiet walk. It was a gift we learned to accept and appreciate.
Information gathering is easily accessible but time consuming. Take notes and keep a log. When we discussed placing Mom I was amazed at the trail my phone calls took. I spoke with health care and elder care professionals who made recommendations. And eventually was able to apply for and receive some Veterans benefits for Mom.
Being a Sandwich Generation member is stressful and challenging. But it can also broaden your horizons and make you rethink your priorities. That’s not always such a bad thing.
“The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV)
Mona Shriver: Mona Shriver worked as an emergency room nurse until the Lord called her out of that profession and into ministry. She is a Precept trained Bible teacher, has been active in women’s ministries, and speaks at special events and retreats. She serves her local church body in central California.
Mona has been married to Gary since 1974 and they have 3 grown sons. She and Gary co-founded Hope & Healing Ministries Inc. http://www.hopeandhealing.us which provides support and resources for couples in adultery recovery. They co-authored the book: Unfaithful, Hope and Healing after Infidelity. Learn more at Website:http://www.hopeandhealing.us