Stuck in the Middle with You
The new rules of the "sandwich generation" can mean making decisions for your aging parents and meeting new demands on your time.
Family Triage continued...
Friesner recommends that every family caregiver squeeze out a small amount
of time for her or himself every day, no matter what. “Whether it’s a bath
every night where no one disturbs you, a walk in the morning where you don’t
take your cell phone, or even 20 minutes at night on an online support board,
you need time for you.”
Find daily activities that can keep seniors busy. Ito’s mother, who is in
the early stages of dementia, attends a quilting class, a bowling league, and
volunteers at her granddaughter’s school. “There’s a routine, a schedule that
she can rely on,” Ito says.
Just as you organize your work, organize the process of caring for your
elderly parent. “We may find ourselves bogged down taking our parents to the
doctor. As they develop more and more conditions and go to more and more
doctors, you’re taking off work every other day,” says Friesner. “Instead, make
Wednesday ‘doctor day’: you’ll take off work that day only, and maybe you’ll
have time for lunch with your parent as well. Make sure it’s not all
responsibility and no relationship.”
The juggling act can be easier if you learn specific skills. “If your parent
has Alzheimer’s, go to the Alzheimer’s Association. If your parent has
arthritis, go to an arthritis association,” says Bradley Bursack. “These
organizations have done so much research, they can teach you the skills you
need. It’s not always intuitive -- love and dedication are important, but they
may not be enough.” She catalogs a host of resources on her web site at
Tune in to the Rest of the Family
What about the other half of the sandwich -- your kids and spouse? In all
the caregiving for elderly parents, you may worry that you’re neglecting the
rest of the family.
“Kids have to be educated the same way as adults do,” says Abaya. “But they
understand more and better than we give them credit for.” At one program, Abaya
heard from a woman whose 10-year-old daughter was constantly fighting with her
grandmother because the grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, would accuse her of