The Sandwich Generation or Tug of War Generation:
Well, we just finished school vacation and boy am I tired; even getting up later than normal didn't help. I thought it was going to be easier with the boys home but I forget that this is their vacation too - to meet with friends and bop around to each others homes and the mall and the movies. Although there are a few other parents who help with the chauffeuring, it just seems I do a lot of it- could be just me since I am on the road a lot. Then of course, I still have mom to drive to dialysis, to doctor appointments, go by the grocery store or another store. Too there were work appointments. I hoped that my other guys would plan their social activities around my schedule. Even though they did help watch Willie a few times and do laundry, while I took mom to her appointments, it just seemed that my cell was constantly ringing with the burning question - 'when are you going to be home? I need to be somewhere". My oldest looking to leave with the car and my youngest looking for a ride. I wondered - where was my vacation? Then I remembered: it was SCHOOL vacation; I do not go to school!!!! Besides making extra sandwiches this week, I guess the 'Sandwich Generation' could be an appropriate name. Sometime I feel that the more appropriate name would be 'quartering' the name given to the tortuous way people hundreds of year ago used to use - where they attached all 4 limbs to horses then sent them running in different directions. But then again, I have been listening to Willie, on the computer, playing endless hours of Artie Smartie Pants (Between the Lions), Sesame Street's the 3 pigs who are sisters, Disney's Good Luck Charlie (which I do like), listening to some hip-hop music of the other 2 (not a fan), getting shadowed by the dog (I don't think he liked all the noise with everyone home) -- you get the picture. I know there are probably thousands of other people out there doing the same thing and although I am not looking for a pat-on-the-back (I don't think others are either), a nice 2 week trip to the beaches in Fiji sounds nice packing nothing but a couple of bathing suits and books -- NO CELL PHONES. Just kidding! ?? People keep telling me my place in heaven is set. Well no one here knows that, it is something we do, try to do with love and patience and hope that someone will say 'let's go out for dinner tonite, there's wine involved'.
Can you hear me? Wireless family communication in the Sandwich Generation.
Communication the Sandwich Generation way. Another day goes by and most of our conversations and check-ins happen over cell phones. My husband gets up at 3am for work, I get up at 5:15am to be ready for 2 students who need to get out of the house (a bus comes by at around 6:45am & my walker leaves around 7:15am). Hubby usually checks in around 7:30am - if he's lucky, I am home. Sometimes I am already at the grocery store or in some cases taking care of mom or heading to a work appointment. On dialysis days, I make sure mom is ready for 10am -- had breakfast, taken care of personal issues and meds, I have packed a snack, thrown in a load of laundry if necessary and off we go!! Then after I drop her off, I get to run errands, do my laundry, make or arrive at my work appointments until I pick her up around 2:20pm. Home we go where she naps, the kids come home, hubby comes home, we cook supper, we eat, help mom get ready for bed and make sure meds are all set up then I get to check the mail and get ready for the next day. Hubby is in bed by 8pm since he gets up early or comes in later if he has stopped by to check on his parents. They too have had medical issues and at 90 need extra people checking in on them. Some days he cooks dinner for them. Lately our oldest son has been going over their house helping with laundry or taking them on errands, since they are not suppose to be driving.
In between all this are the phone calls from the hubby or kids: where are you, are you home, whatcha doing? Sometimes there is a request to pick something up, schedule something, ask where something is, ask for a ride. If the phone is not ringing, there is a text showing up: this is where I am now after school, I need something for school, can you pick something up at the store, what's for supper. Then we consider ourselves lucky when we have a good connection and not have to say 'what?', move a few steps one way or the other, or repeat back something we heard that has nothing to do with the conversation because we heard it wrong! We have not had much of a chance to have face-to-face talks for a long time. Any eye contact is done as people are near an open door - coming or going. Sometimes as people are getting ready for bed - that is if they haven't sneaked into bed while I'm in the bathroom and promptly fallen asleep. Sometimes if we are lucky, Sunday evening meals are about the only time we all sit down together and have any chance of actually holding conversations - a lost art. For awhile, Frank & I actually got out on Saturday evenings for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine somewhere close - with the phones ON of course, just in case. Lately, nothing!! One of these days we'll all master the art of conversation again and be able to sit in the same room together and actually look at each other while talking. Won't that be nice!!
Taking Time for Mom Affects Will.
Will's teacher called me the other day asking me if Will was feeling Ok, had he been sick or not feeling well at home or is there something going on at home. Apparently he has been crying at school, being a little obstinate, asking to see the nurse to try to come home (this is not new - he does this to try and come home to watch movies). His teachers have gotten use to him and can usually tell when he is testing them or is really ill.
So I filled her in about my mom and what I have been doing. Putting 2 and 2 together, as they say, my time with mom (even if he is with me) has had an effect on him. The routine is broken, we go here and there and sometimes have to move fast. The tougher times came when I was not sleeping in my bed and had to get mom up and to the bathroom, get her breakfast and not get him ready for school and on the bus -- his brothers helped. But he did not like that I guess and was upset at school. He is so low-key all the time and usually very easy-going, it is hard to believe he is so affected by this. I am around just not 'catering' to him.
I know that even when he is with me and I am taking care of mom, he is always interrupting whatever I am doing to ask about something he wants, asks about where we are going next, where's dad, telling me what he wants to eat. I 'hear' from him about every 5 minutes. I hate to admit it but it gets exhausting and aggravating with the constant interrupting. I will write things down about what we are going to do, which usually helps, but then he comes with the papers showing me what's next and gives me the sign for 'wait'. Yes Will you have to wait for that.
With mom in the hospital, when we visit, he wants to see her but then after 5 minutes he wants to come home. So we put on the TV so he can watch his shows but we still get the 'home' and 'wait' signs, 'eat pizza' and 'wait', 'computer' and 'wait'. Then he'll wave to her, like saying 'good by'. At first it's cute but it gets old fast.
So I pray for patience at the end of the day and look forward for the weekend and wine.
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4 Signs of Caregiving Stress Overload
ElderCarelink email posts 4 signs that should not be overlooked by you, the caregiver, or a close family member or friend. They report that even though the immediate caregiver may not be helping in direct care, the mind is never far from the needs of the older person, thinking about meals, falling, medications. Take the opinion of a family member or friend if they are telling you that you are stressed. Four signs: you skip your own physicals; you isolate yourself from others; you eat and/or drink too much for good health; you are short tempered with the elder, your spouse or your children. If any or all of these sound familiar, take a break no matter how short in order to recharge. For more information on caregiver stress see ElderCarelink
You can check out my ranting and stream of consciousness writing about looking at adult service providers with Will.
A Caregiver's Poem
I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!
(picture from Caregivers Blog)
I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.
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