Baby Boomer Caregivers - The Sandwich Generation
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Are you a Baby Boomer who is taking take of an elderly loved one? I am. And maybe you also have dependent children. And/or have a job. I do. You’ve probably heard of “the Sandwich Generation?”
When my father turned 93 ½, he woke up one morning and suddenly could hardly see. Everything was very blurry (he’d had macular degeneration for a few years but had had the eyeball shots and was doing OK). But as of that morning he couldn’t drive, couldn’t read food labels, couldn’t get to the store, couldn’t read anything, couldn’t watch TV, could hardly see his microwave. Plus, he was totally deaf in one ear and had 50% hearing loss in the other. He didn’t know what to do. Up until that morning, he had played 18 holes of golf four times a week, cooked all his own meals with fresh food from scratch, drove his “younger friends” places because he was spryer than they were, and lived in and maintained his own home.
He called my sister immediately, and we all rushed to get him from Arizona back up to Minnesota as soon as possible – within two weeks. He moved to a senior campus four blocks from me, and I was his main family caregiver. Funny thing, I had just launched my web site about elderly issues and had many years of experience working with seniors. Little did I know how much that would now come into play for me.
Through the weeks and months, I learned first-hand about making a Plan, legal and financial checklists, caregiver duties, elderly activities and keeping him busy, how to deal with deaf-blind issues, independent living vs. assisted living. Lots. I learned the delicate balance between assisting as a caregiver and allowing independence and decision making for my father. About nurturing his dignity and self-esteem.
Caregiving could be seen as a burden, but the joys and satisfaction of getting to know my father in ways I never would have, have been special. I have made new memories with him that will live in me for the rest of my life, long after my father is no longer here. There is lots to share. If you’d like some ideas that may help you, please visit our special page on care of the elderly. And I’d love to hear your stories too!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Schulte is the founder of ElderOneStop, LLC and www.elder-one-stop.com specializing in one-stop resources and information for seniors and baby boomers -- including retirement, health, travel, caregiving, nutrition, activities, housing, and more. A free newsletter and web site subscription are available.