Friday, May 4, 2007

Stuck in the middle again

Sue posted a question on the link above asking for advice balance the competing demands of her child and her aging parents. Sue - we're with you! You, me and millions of Americans are in this exact position. Anything we can do to support each other is a value. Here's what I suggested to Sue:

Welcome the the "sandwich generation" - that growing group of us caught in the middle between parenting responsibilities and our aging parents. While I've been in this field professionally for the past 20 years, I've just now hit it personally, trying to balance the needs of my 15 year old daughter and my aging parents. What a challenge! Some of the things that have helped me are:

1) Give yourself permission to skip a day visiting the parents and spend that day either doing what you want to do, or with your child. You won't get back the parenting days you miss; your parents will probably manage (somehow!) without you.

2) GET HELP! It's hard to ask sibs to help (I'm finally not asking anything more from my sister who has "advice" but no "time" probably know what I mean). There are tons of community resources, however - find them and pay for them. You'll be surprised how far a paid caregiver can get in helping your parent - without all the baggage of family and history, they walk into the situation ready to help - and can do it. Your parents probably have resources - use them. This is what they worked and saved for. If you're busy doing tasks every time you visit, you're missing the opportunity to offer a relationship. Pay someone else to do the tasks; when you visit, sit down and VISIT!

3) Consider an assisted living community or retirement community with support. You'd be amazed at how nice many of them are. My mother finally moved into a cottage in a retirement community and she told me the other night that she's never been happier. She loves the companionship, the outings and trips, the opportunity to share meals with friends every day. She said she feels cared about and valued by her new friends - and what a gift to receive at age 80!

Hope these ideas help you. Good luck - remember, you're in good company!

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