Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Welcome to the Sandwich Generation

“Making Your Parents' Golden Years Shine” by Will Andrews in Business Week Online suggests three tips for Gen Sandwichers to begin the process of staying aware of their parents’ declining abilities, even before they begin to need help. He suggests that we:

1. Investigate. Keep an eye on things. Pay frequent visits to parents or elderly relatives in their homes or care facilities. Try to notice any changes—whether it's peeking in the refrigerator to check for a sudden lack of food or scanning the hallway desk for a pile of unpaid bills.

2. Prepare. Don't wait for a crisis—a sudden illness, injury, or other negative development—to start the process. With the help of your parents, do an assessment of the state of their health and finances. Make sure that all their important papers—wills, insurance policies, and the like—are up to date and readily accessible.

If you have access to eldercare referral services, give them a call. If you and your parents think a move to a care facility may be in the cards, be sure to visit the places under consideration, and ask as many questions as necessary.

3. Communicate. Keeping the lines open is essential, whether it's asking your parents about their needs and preferences, or keeping a smooth relationship among siblings as they try to share eldercare responsibilities. It's a good idea to establish a regularly scheduled time to talk with parents, siblings, or caregivers about how they're faring, and about your own concerns. You don't need to book a conference room; a cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts will do just fine.

Andrews concludes this post with his most important comment: One final thing to consider: We are part of a continuum. Our parents and grandparents also dealt with the joys and sorrows involved in looking after their aged mothers and fathers. Now it's their turn to be the recipients of their children's care and attention. And the way we treat our parents may be the example our children take with them when we reach our golden years. Here's to showing them the right path.

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