THE “SANDWICH GENERATION”
By Dr. Linda Levine Silverman
... Psychologist, Founder and Director of the Center for Personal Excellence
and host of "Timeout For Wellness" on www.Big810AM.com - starting March 20th, 2011.
Are you caught in the middle between raising families of your own and taking care of aging parents or other relatives with whom you were raised? If so, welcome to membership in the “Sandwich Generation.” Membership is rapidly increasing in this group of adults between their mid-20’s and 60’s. Membership is not restricted by age, gender, marital status, occupation, socioeconomic status, or religious preference.
You’ve left your family of origin, gone off into the world, engrossed in your own life, career, relationships, and bred children of your own. At this point in your life, the last thing on your mind is having to interrupt that process with taking care of your parents or other relatives. While you have become an adult, you may expect that your parents will always be in the caretaking role of your youth, not the other way around! We want to feel comforted, that no matter how far we may fall or fail, our parents will be there to pick up the pieces.
It is interesting to note, as an aside, that not long ago, households were multigenerational. In fact, many cultures still ascribe to that arrangement. There are advantages to the younger generation to have grandma or grandpa under the same roof to lend sage advice. Families assumed that elder care was a natural, expected occurrence.
Today, seniors often live independently and “active” communities are cropping up all over the country. They are involved in their own life and do not wish to burden their adult children with their needs. Adult children are able to pop in to visit periodically, but then return guilt-free to their own homes.
What do we do when we see that our parents do not fit that mold? We see that Mom and Dad cannot make it on their own nor can the senior citizen communities handle them when they become unable to care for their basic needs. What happens when our parents’ world collides with ours?
Sandwich Generation members have to be realistic. While no one wants to think of becoming elderly, reality is that we all will. With our parents, you must be able to face that reality when the time comes.
Will you be ready to assume responsibility for your parent?
While we cannot prevent the outcome of our parents’ physical and mental health, we can make plans in collaboration with parents before any problems arise.
Lawyers and financial experts skilled with working with senior citizens recommend that this discussion take place prior to parents’ retirement from the workforce. The earlier that plans are cemented, the easier it will be for everybody involved. If the adult child has siblings, it is best if all are present for this discussion, so there are no surprises when the time comes and each child can agree to share the various responsibilities that may arise.
While parents may not want to discuss their future needs, most are aware that they need to plan ahead with their children. This planning not only brings peace of mind to the parent, but assures that when the time comes, children are not left wondering what their parents’ wishes are. Additionally, at a time of great emotional pain, the child will not have to worry about logistics; it will have been already arranged.
Some of the topics that need to be covered in a discussion with parents are:
Remember that the sooner this discussion takes place, the sooner both adult children and parents can get on with the process of living, with peace of mind about the future. Gather as much information about local facilities or agencies that can help in the care of an elderly parent so you are not isolated.
For further assistance and information,
please give me a call at 321-945-1153
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For SPONSORSHIP RATES for Dr. Linda's radio show - CLICK HERE