Are you in the Sandwich Generation?
No, not the fast food kind. Do you have kids in college or just out and parents in their 70’s or older? Are you working all day to pay off those college loans and stopping at your parents’ on your way home to make sure they have taken their medications and paid their bills? Are you getting phone calls from mom at work, at home, and driving in between? Is it difficult balancing career, kids, spouse, and parents? Do you feel as if you are on a treadmill that switches direction several times a day and you can’t get off? If so, you are a member in good standing of the Sandwich Generation. And you could use some help.
Balancing The Elderly Care of Your Parents While Meeting The Needs of Your Children
It is important to recognize that you are not alone, as many families have elderly parents in need of significant monitoring or hands on care and have young adult kids who are still in need of some attention. Those families are working very hard to keep mom or dad in their home, and could use some help.
There are usually many factors to consider. Getting adequate care for mom and dad is the primary consideration. The cost of that care is usually right behind in importance. And burnout of the caregiver is a big concern, because if the main caregiver burns out, mom or dad may be forced into a nursing home. To get adequate care, consult with a geriatric care manager or social worker or nurse or elder care attorney who works with the elderly. They should have good ideas on how to provide the care.
If managing mom’s medications has you constantly checking to see if they were properly taken, a special dispensing machine called MD.2 Personal Medication System. (Call 877-563-2632) It dispenses the pill, notifies mom when it is time to take it, and if not removed from the machine retrieves the pill and calls you (or better yet, your sister) to say that mom hasn’t taken the pill. You may still get an occasional call, but a great worry will have been relieved.
Perhaps a helper could be hired to check in once a day to help with a meal or bathing or housekeeping. It is not well known, but the VA has a program called Aid and Attendance for which mom or dad might qualify and that might pay for the caregiver. Aid and Attendance will even give compensation for a child giving care for a parent.
Connecticut also has three levels of programs to provide home care, Levels I, II, and III. If a person cannot do one activity of daily living, such as monitoring their medications, doing housekeeping, or bathing themselves, then they meet the physical test for Level I and missing two activities is Level II, and missing three is Level III, which is Medicaid (Title 19).
In practical terms, Level I provides about an hour a day of care, Level II, about two hours, and Level III, about five hours. Level III pays all medical expenses including prescriptions. Often, that is not only the difference between mom staying at home or going into a nursing home, but for the Sandwich Generation can be the difference between going frantic or staying sane.
So, if you are in the Sandwich Generation, do yourself and your parents a favor and seek some good advice early that will keep them home longer, and let you lead a less harried life. And that’s no baloney.