Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Sandwich Generation…How do you handle caring for parents and children simultaneously?
No parents ever want to see their child suffer. Nor do any children want to see their parents suffer. So what happens when you’re in your 40s or 50s, with dependent children and elderly parents who are starting to need help? How do you balance caring for your children and your parents while working outside of the home? I’d like to share with you a story I witnessed firsthand.
My good friend and next-door neighbor Heather moved back home after college and was living with her dad and grandparents, who had moved in when they couldn’t live on their own anymore. Albert, the grandfather, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and though he was more physically fit than every other grandparent I know, he was slowly declining. We’d find him wandering our neighborhood despite barriers on the stairs and multiple locks on doors, trying to go back to his house. He also had trouble with incontinence, anger, and hygiene. To add to the situation, his wife Marjorie was diagnosed with dementia. Heather was working two or three part-time jobs at the time, and Bob, her dad, was working full time as well. It was overwhelming to say the least. Responsibility for their care fell on Heather and Bob, with some help from the neighbors and in-laws. Heather said, “Life was very hard for me and my father. My dad, who is the most mild-mannered man in the world, would get frustrated and start yelling. There was a lot of depression and stress in our house.”
When Heather got a full-time job almost an hour away, they knew they had to do something. There wasn’t anyone who could be with Albert and Marjorie during the day to make sure they were safe, took their medications, and ate proper meals, or to help them with hygiene.
That’s when they started looking at home healthcare.
They found an agency they liked, and eventually a consistent home health aide, who became like part of the family. She became friends with Albert and Marjorie, ensured that they were safe, clean, taking their meds, and not wandering off. Their home health aide also became a source of support for Heather and Bob. They knew that when they couldn’t care for Albert and Marjorie, she would.
Heather recommends a home health aide fully. She said, “It was the best thing that could have happened in such a bad situation.” After hiring a home health aide, there was less stress and frustration, and a feeling of security—Heather didn’t have to worry about her grandparents when she went out.
If you’re in the position where caring for your parents is becoming overwhelming, consider a home health agency. We know it’s a big decision, so click here for a list of helpful questions to ask when researching agencies.
By Kayla Murphy