Updated: Jan 22, 2021
When I write about my experience working with the elderly, the perspective is from a person who is trained to help. Identify a problem, make a plan, fix it, teach, move on. To start to fully understand what it is like to feel isolated as an elder, you must understand the sandwich.
If you are aging and have the benefit of an adult child to help you with some of the things you have difficulty with, chances are that golden child of yours is a bit exhausted. I have witnessed that it is often the eldest daughter or if there are sons and a daughter, it's often the daughter. Or a daughter-in-law. Some seniors hate to ask for help and I have to convince them that they took care of their children for years, let them repay the time and energy. Others need so much care that they live with their children or in assisted living centers. Sometimes the living situation is pleasant and, sometimes not.
If you are that golden child, you are not only taking care of your own children (and home schooling), you are doing your own job, adulting AND taking care of an elderly parent ... you're in the sandwich generation. You are between the kids and elderly parents, they are the bread. In this analogy there are kids, but heck, it could be an open-faced sandwich without kids. It is still a lot.
Yeah, you're the meat (or hummus/tofu) and you probably would like a moment to yourself to just take care of you without feeling guilty. You are inundated with people needing you, just the opposite of your parent. How are you supposed to fit all this in also? When you do go to take care of mom or dad, you are trying to get things done (medical appointments, groceries, pill box, laundry, bills) and there is not enough time to sit and just be together, to enjoy each other.
Caregiver burnout, it's a thing. It's a big thing.
Sometimes the burnout gets so bad that verbal and other abuse occurs. A loud exhale in exasperation or fatigue doesn't go unnoticed. An elder is aware that you have taken time off work, away from your children or both, in order to take them somewhere. Believe me, they already feel like a burden, you don't have to say anything.
In the year 2020, seniors who are tech-savvy are empowered, they Uber, Instacart, Face-time, prime, tweet, Netflix and Google. But the focus of Elderwheels as a premium service is on those who aren't as able. They need access to community to combat the isolation.
What is your time worth as a caregiver? What is quality time with your parent worth? If only those other mundane things could be taken care of and you had time and energy left when you see each other to just enjoy the company. What if mom and dad could meet you somewhere for lunch, rather than you having to pick them up and take them back home? It is possible and it should be prioritized. As seniors transition to the last stage of life, what can we do to ensure those years are not defined by fear, depression and isolation? How can we make their transition more joyful, blissful even?
Yes, I am in the sandwich. I have 2 young children, an energetic dog, a husband and Grandma is living with us during the pandemic. It is mutually supportive. She has all of us to keep her company, there is always something going on. She was there when Vivian started to walk and helps to make sure Finlay eats his lunch before going on a Lego bender after I leave for work. My husband's parents are far way in Scotland, which makes is exponentially harder to be supportive, so we are thankful for video calls and social media to feel connected.
Yes, I am part of the sandwich generation. It's not a bad thing. Sandwiches are yummy : )
Whatever type family you are a part of, you need that excessively long toothpick to keep the sandwich together, close and not falling apart. Let Elderwheels help.
Let us uplift our elders!