Caring for a parent – Do You Need Time to Catch Your Breath?

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Elderly Respite Care

Your children are back in school. Whew, now it feels good to sit back and catch your breath. Now there is a bit of time to read, time for a casual cup of coffee, time to think to get to projects that you could not get to with the kids home for the summer.

Adult children caring for a parent or parents do not get this “school time break”. Even though you love your parents, being in the “sandwich generation” is often grueling 24/7 work. So, what can you do for relief? The following is an actual story of a family.

Things were going just fine even though mom has dementia. Dad is still strong at age 86 and caring for mom’s substantial daily needs at home. Then, dad has just been told he needs surgery and will not be able to lift or give his normal care for mom for at least 2 – 4 weeks. There is just not enough of me to help mom with as much as she needs! What can we do? Life today is active, especially for women aged 45 – 55 who care for both their parents and children. These are the people caught in the “sandwich generation”.

What if – a facility respite care is used for both mom and dad for the next month? Dad can recover while mom has her needs met by the staff. They will have nice living quarters, receive daily meals, light housekeeping, socialization, transportation; and for an additional cost have staff available for special needs. The true value is: they can continue to live together and even bring some of their pictures and mom’s special chair. In addition, I know they are safe and have someone available for needs.

Looking at the alternatives, one of my brothers or sisters could live with them during this time, but we all have children in high school and simply cannot move in. Mom and dad could live with one of their adult children, but the space and physical layout of our homes just won’t work well for their needs. Bringing in home care is a good option. It would help meet mom and dad’s needs for parts of the day, but 24 hour care is not in their budget, so family would need to fill in the gaps. We are all busy and discussing scheduling seemed to be the beginning of a landslide of family dynamic problems. We came to realize it’s tough for sons and daughters to make the time needed to help to this degree.

A Facility respite care seems to alleviate many of the problems we considered and does seem to be our best family option. The cost will be out of mom and dad’s pocket, but projected to be at the cost of a vacation for a like time period. The value will be great to dad as he can continue his responsibility to care for mom and give his body time to heal. Dad and mom continue to be the decision makers as we become more involved to guide and help them.

Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do to manage this? Three words of advice: Plan, Plan and Plan. Legal, financial, residential, mental and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis. Feel free to contact our office if you have questions.

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Steven A. Buttice is the president of Medical Reimbursement & Management Services, Inc., a firm specializing in issues affecting seniors, including seminars and consultation on Medicare Plans, Long Term Care and other types of insurance, claims issues, and sales/service of insurance products since 1984.

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