Senior Care. How the Sandwich Generation Can Help Meet the Needs of an Aging Population
Many of you are members of what has become known as the “sandwich generation.” Old enough that your parents are aging and you may be playing a caregiver role for them, but young enough that you still have dependent children. As a result, you are sandwiched between two generations requiring your attention and care. It can be an extremely stressful scenario, and is usually exacerbated by the fact that most sandwich generation people have not yet reached their own retirement age and have to juggle the demands of a career with childcare and elder care. The result is that caregivers are depleted, which can lead to unintentional neglect of elderly relatives, who may hesitate to be honest about their real needs, because they are in denial or simply do not want to be burdensome to their family members.
Successfully caring for elderly relatives begins with an honest assessment of their needs.
As a potential caregiver, one of the most difficult things is determining the level of care and attention that your relative requires. In order to help determine whether your relative needs some type of care, it is important to ask questions about their daily living abilities. Are they able to perform all of the regular (daily, weekly, or monthly) tasks that are a part of caring for themselves and their environment? Can they bathe, groom, and dress themselves? Can they safely prepare healthy meals for themselves? Can they perform basic housekeeping skills? Can they maintain any yard or other property? Can they continue to drive or otherwise arrange transportation? Can they arrange for medication and/or any medical needs?
If any of the answers to the above questions are no, then the next step is to look at whether the situation is easily modified. For example, many elderly people are no longer up to the physical challenges of routine housework or yard maintenance, but those issues can be remedied by hiring professional housecleaners or yard crews to come in on a weekly basis. However, a relative who cannot handle daily routines, such as self-grooming, would require more assistance.
The next step is assessing the resources available to help.
Once you have assessed your loved one’s ability and needs, the next step is looking at the resources available to help. For example, a relative who can no longer drive but is in an area with affordable, accessible, and safe public transportation is not facing the same mobility crises as a relative who can no longer drive and lives somewhere where he or she cannot access public transportation. Who is available to help? What kind of help can those people provide? What is the cost of that help? Are there any conditions to quality for the help?