Solutions for the Sandwich Generation
I was tempted to start this blog with a joke. As a foodie, I love a good sandwich. So being part of the sandwich generation isn’t all bad in my mind—even when we’re talking about being sandwiched between caring for our kids and watching out of our parents. (If I could think of a funny punch line about sandwiches and pickles, it would go here.)
After all, we’re “sandwiched” for the best of reasons. People are living longer. And a growing number are choosing to remain in their homes, rather than relocating to retirement communities. Many are turning to private duty caregivers for the support they need to safely and gracefully age-in-place.
There are some warning signs, when it’s time to consider private duty care. Those are the folks trained to deliver non-medical assistance to people as they grow older. Look for a change in hygiene. If an appearance-conscious parent isn’t well-groomed, they may be struggling with activities of daily living—like showering or bathing.
People sometimes withdraw from regular activities when they are struggling physically or if dementia is emerging. You can monitor for that by asking very specific questions, like: how was book club yesterday? Or what is on your calendar for next week?
Vague answers are a sign you may need to dig deeper. And if a parent stops following their usual routine of social events, then they may need help with getting ready to leave the house or even getting behind the wheel. Meal preparation falls into the same category. Our parents should be able to tell us what they ate for dinner the night before. There may be other visual cues too—empty refrigerators, piles of laundry.
Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong, it may be time to have a professional stop by for an evaluation. Most private duty care organizations will do that for free. Then they will create a plan of services and hours that are the most supportive of your parents’ needs and budget. They should take some of the squeeze out of being part of the sandwich generation too.