Have you heard the phrase sandwich generation?
These are the Baby Boomers who are caught between taking care of their children and taking care of their parents. These are people, most often women, who may be at the top of the corporate ladder, ready to retire or still enjoying their well-deserved position after years of hard work. But they are now facing some very difficult decisions as their mom or dad has come into a new phase of life themselves – the elderly years – where they can no longer care for themselves. Perhaps it is due to physical limitations. Perhaps dementia or Alzheimer’s has begun to set in.
Caregiving can range from Mom just needing a bit of help getting to or from places as she no longer drives, but can ambulate well for the most part otherwise, all the way to needing constant watching as the debilitating effects of memory impairment are taking over. It is a hard road to travel alone if you are the sole caregiver.
Many elderly are moved into an assisted living facility when it becomes beyond the caregiver’s ability to keep them at home, especially if there is distance between them. Others move in with their kids. But as age and health issues continue, helping takes on a more active role in the life of the middle-aged woman, and her own quality of life can diminish physically, socially, and emotionally. Selfishness is not a quality anyone wants to be known for, so she continues to give and give….often at great personal sacrifice. There is no one easy answer, especially if the parent child relationship has completely reversed.
Anyone who is or has been in this situation understands.
I’d like to highlight two local reputable and understanding options for those who are caught in the sandwich generation.
Annette Smith of FirstLight HomeCare in Chardon is probably one of the most compassionate people you could speak with. When you and your loved one have chosen to keep them at home or perhaps have no other options to due restricted finances, FirstLight is the place to call. They provide complete companion and personal care services for seniors, or anyone for that matter, who just needs a little assistance. They employ educated, highly-trained caregivers as well as additional, innovative services, that can allow you some much needed time to yourself, which, of course, rejuvenates you as the primary caregiver when you return! There is nothing to lose in a phone call to Annette, who offers free in-home assessments, and the possibility of a whole lot to gain – like your social life, joy, and sanity!
The next option is to visit Burton Health Care Center just east of the square in Burton. This is a full care live-in facility worth checking into if you are considering a new home for your aging parent. Though they do not cater to individuals with severe memory conditions, there are a number of folks with mild cases who reside there. It is a very home-like setting, replete with staff who thoroughly love the caregiving they extend to the residents.
If you would like to take that weekend trip with friends or even a full two week vacation, Burton Health Care offers respite care for those times. You can leave your mom or dad in the hands of professionally trained staff, go off and have fun, and have no worries about the quality of care they will be receiving.
One of our writers, Sheryl Gusler, attended the 100th birthday celebration of a resident there in November of 2013 and has written a fabulous story about it here: The Centennial Celebration of John Gander. It was Community Liaison Laura Washington who had brought up the topic with me as the Center was preparing for the party. People truly are important to the staff who work there!
If you happen to be part that sandwich generation and feel as though you are being eaten up by the responsibilities associated with it, give one of these local businesses a call. At the very least you’ll be put in touch with people who understand and can offer suggestions for help.