By Deborah Schwartz, LCSW-C
I always look to my husband with great respect and admiration for fulfilling the commandment of “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother” to the highest standard that he could. He moved his mother into our home when she could no longer live on her own. He took hands-on care of her until she passed away three years later. At the same time, we had 4 of our 5 children living at home.
When my mother-in-law moved in, things began to change. In many ways, these changes were for the better. We all began to realize that there were more than our own needs to be considered. My son understood that he could not have his friends come over at anytime and make normal teenage commotion. Often, I would find that he and his siblings would take time and sit on their grandmother’s bed and discuss the day, waiting for her kind and loving responses. Our family began experiencing what Jewish tradition has always held true. The elderly should be revered, as they have a special wisdom that comes with life experience.
Today there are family situations where there are three, four or even five generations living under one roof. This can be an arrangement made out of necessity or an agreed upon choice. Other families may have resources to help pay for care so that the older adult can live independently. No matter what the living arrangements, the sandwich generation faces many challenges. Here are some suggestions to help navigate the way.
- Ask yourself, “Am I the best person to care for my aging parent?” Am I doing this to mend a relationship or feel better about myself? If so, beware that this may not happen. If that’s the case, are you ready to handle that?
- Try to have the “conversation” with your aging parents while they are still able to express their wishes.
- Involve other members of your family for help and support.
- Have a backup plan. Educate yourself about resources and programs offered in the community and at JCS.
- When an older parent does not want to listen or is resistant to needed change, involve the parent’s medical doctor. This opinion and direction can carry a lot of weight.
Decisions faced by members of the sandwich generation are never easy and, therefore, require a great deal of thoughtful consideration. Life is busy enough without looking for things to worry about, but having a plan and being prepared might be the best thing you can do for you and your entire family.
By Deborah Schwartz, LCSW-C, JCS Therapy Services
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.