Choices in The Sandwich Generation

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2020

Mom wakes, again, after nearly 30 minutes of sleep. She is groggy. She scowls, and looks at me, almost with a look of annoyance. “Where am I?’ she asks.

“Mom, you’re in the hospital,” I tell her with as much gentleness as I can manage after answering the question multiple times.

“What?! Why am I in the hospital?”

I tell her she has been having trouble breathing and that is why she has the oxygen tube in her nose. She is cranky. She jerks her head from side to side and scratches her head. “Where’s Charlie?”

There it is. Where is Charlie. The love of her life.  My Dad.  My Dad who died not 3 weeks ago.  She doesn’t remember.  I’ve had to tell her now too many times.  How do I keep breaking her heart? Am I doing the right thing in telling her?  I’ve been asking myself that one too many times, as well.

“Mom…” She can tell by my voice, I think because she looks...

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Elder Orphans

Uncategorized Aug 01, 2020

Elder Orphans

The other day I visited with a family friend who was having several helpers sort through a lot of old stuff – cleaning out. Her husband had died about a year ago, and she was finally ready to clean out a lot of the rooms in her home. Her daughter and a couple of grandchildren were there with her, along with some other family to help her through the process.

As I talked with several of the family members, I was struck with how worried they were about her. She now had a huge, empty house, she was getting on in years herself, and had recently made the decision to stop driving, which gave them enormous comfort, but also laid a new burden in their laps, as well.

Watching our loved ones grow old is very difficult. Often I hear people talk about how they now have to “parent” their parents. It certainly is a viable analogy, but I think it is not quite right. Is it that we become “parents” to our parents when they need us more, or are we really...

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“New Normal” or Reset?

Uncategorized Jul 01, 2020

Is this really the “new normal?”

I hear that phrase in a lot and have used it myself. Certainly, there are times when circumstances alter our lives indelibly. When that happens, we become accustomed to those changes and go about transforming how we move in the world. Getting married. Having children. Losing a loved one. Health-related concerns. These events change us.  And in response to the change, we make adjustments and transition to new ways of being.

March of 2020 brought change in a big way.  Our battle against a pandemic forced many of us to make drastic changes in our lives. Many resisted the change, but even the act of resisting was a change in what was previously “normal.”

Many marched and stated, “This is not my new normal!”

In late May, 2020, George Floyd was murdered, on camera, and we watched it online, repeatedly, and we were again changed. No matter what we thought about what happened, or what we thought should happen...

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Bright Sides and Silver Linings

Uncategorized Jun 28, 2019

Originally published in August 2018.  I've taken this blog and expanded it in a soon to come book.  I'll post more information on that later!

It is rather counter-intuitive that we find the signs of aging actually sneak up on us; after all, we are all aging every day.

The Sandwich Generation squeeze is tough. There are no two ways about it. One of the kickers is that it tends to sneak up on us. We live in a busy world when raising children, even if they are older and able to take care of most of their own needs. Combine any level of childcare or teen and young adult “management” with working, and we have busy with an extra dollop of stress on our plate. So in talking with people in the Sandwich Generation, I often hear how it went from 0 to 60 in a heartbeat. They didn’t really see it coming. Mom fell and broke her hip. Dad had a stroke. I’ve written about how I wasn’t fully in tune with how quickly my mother’s...

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Embracing Life at Death Cafe

Uncategorized May 27, 2019

 

Talking about death is awkward for most of us.  It’s not an easy cocktail or happy hour topic.  But I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to encourage this very subject. 

 

So I searched the web for tips. 

 

When I came across a Meetup group called Death Café, I was intrigued.  While intrigue was high, I was too busy to go.  And, if truth be told, it seemed rather odd.  Would it be filled with Goths or artists focused on El dia de los Muertos?  Was it for folks who were dying, had recently lost someone, or some other reason?  The post for the Meetup simply spoke to talking about death in a comfortable setting, and the mention of cake.

 

About four months later, at a networking meeting, someone mentioned wanting to go to a Death Café.  Bingo.  I was again intrigued.  I found the time and place and plugged it into my calendar. 

 

I arrived a bit after 1 pm at a...

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Signs Your Parent Needs More Help

Uncategorized Apr 29, 2019

There are some great articles on the web that can give you information about what signs to look for to tell you if your parent needs more help.  Next Avenue and A Place for Mom are two that have good information.  Common items are:

  • Difficulty with Activities of Daily Living (often referred to as ADLs)
    • Cooking
    • Bathing
    • Home maintenance and cleaning
    • Running errands
  • Frequent Falls
  • Driving difficulty
    • Look for dings on the car
    • Traffic violations
    • Limiting driving – if this is unusual
  • Social Isolation
  • Forgetfulness
    • Missed appointments
    • Getting lost
    • Trouble recalling routines
  • Not taking medications properly
  • Emergency room visits or increase in frequency
  • Money management issues – if this is out of the ordinary
    • Missed bills
    • Missing money

The Changes are the Key!

We can all be forgetful or go through periods of withdrawal, or fall or any of the above things.  But it is the change in behavior, change in patterns that is the key. And...

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Tough Choice? OWN Your Decision.

Uncategorized Mar 25, 2019

A few months ago, I was with a group of friends, and while talking with two women, I learned how one was now caring for her Mother In Law.  It was a change in plans for her and her husband, and it meant putting some things on hold.  The other friend talked about how her mother would likely come live with her and her husband when necessary.  Both felt very positive about their decisions, even if it meant life changed or would change.  I did not get a sense of “Poor me.  This is such a burden.”  It was a life choice and they could own it.  That is powerful.

There are many ways we can care for our aging parents.  Many people are able to age in place and stay in their homes. Some will move in with family. And then some will need more care for any number of reasons. My parents both had had good experiences with their aging parents living in Assisted Living facilities.

For my mother, it was a...

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It's Okay. You're Not a Bad Mom!

Uncategorized Feb 28, 2019

Today I got my latest edition of People Magazine.  I know. I know.  But it’s my one guilty pleasure-read each week.  I fit it in between The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly – both of which take me much longer to read.  Not as many pictures.  Good cartoons, though.

I digress.

This week’s People Magazine featured a rosy and pregnant Meghan Markle, aka Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex on the cover.  She is beaming.  Inside there were all sorts of little details about a recent baby shower held in NYC by all of her American friends, like Serena Williams.

What caught my attention was Serena Williams saying she gave Meghan all sorts of advice.  Not bad, getting advice from Serena Williams!  But I recall that Serena had a lot of challenges with the birth of her daughter and just after with postpartum depression.

My kids are both adults now, but like most women I remember each birth as if it was...

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The Hard Work of a Butterfly

Uncategorized Jan 28, 2019

It’s excruciating to witness the pain of someone you love.  Whether that pain is physical, emotional or spiritual, it is almost overwhelming to witness knowing there is little you can do to really alleviate the pain. 

Sure, with the physical pain you might be able to make the other person more comfortable.  You could give them pain meds if they have been prescribed.  You can adjust the environment as best you can – turn down the lights, quiet noises, maybe turn up some white noise, set the temperature to an ideal level, add scents or eliminate scents.  Whatever they need.

But with internal, emotional pain or spiritual pain, there is little you can do but offer empathy, and sometimes empathy is just holding a hand and not saying anything.

Sometimes the best you can do is to not say or do anything. 

But inside, you hurt.  And this type of hurt is almost harder to bear.  You want to take it away.  You want to say just...

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Giving the Best Gift Ever

Uncategorized Dec 24, 2018

 

I wrote a brief article for my husband's newsletter just in time for the 2018 Christmas Holidays. The concept is great for caregivers and those in the "Sandwich Generation" every day of the year.  Here it is, for the good of the cause!

The Best Gift Ever

Holiday time again! Rushing about, getting the house ready, decorating, cooking, attending work parties, holiday cards to buy, create and send out, neighborhood parties, buying gifts, wrapping gifts. And if your house has elves… Well, you know what that means. Time seems to fly and stress seems to soar to exponential heights. And as the stress piles up, the “Joy of Season” seems to dissipate like the helium out of a balloon that snagged on a sharp edge.

And there we are, flat on the ground.

Many of us run around at top speed trying to do it all a great deal of the time. During the holidays, though, it really feels compounded. There are quite a few expectations and quite a few triggers.

Our bodies,...

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