“Sandwich generation” refers to people, generally in their 50s and 60s, who have the joy of grown children and grandchildren in their lives, but are also concerned about the care of elderly parents in their 80s and 90s.
Yesterday, my sisters and I made another housing change for our 90-plus-year-old parents: a small and homey extended-care assisted living facility that allows them to be together (for the first time in 16 months), even if they have different care need levels.
I've sure gotten old. I've had two by-pass surgeries. A hip replacement, new knees. Fought prostate cancer, and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation, hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But.....Thank God, I still have my Arizona driver's license!
My siblings and I have been making housing and medical decisions for our parents since 1999. You’d think after ten years, making decisions for them would be easy. You’d think we wouldn’t worry as much as we used to. You’d think we’d have it down to a slick, Teflon, fool-proof system.
You’d think wrong.
Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?
It never gets easier. You never get over second guessing whether or not you’ve made the right decision. You never quite get over the feeling that this isn’t right—they’re the mom and the dad and we’re the children. You never get over the uncomfortable feeling that this is against some law of nature; when did the tables turn and the roles reverse? Who put us in charge? Why are the loonies running the bin?
When you are young, you want to be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. When you are older, you will settle for being the master of your weight and the captain of your bowling team.
But in a strange twist of irony, the parents that you’ve always gone to for strength and advice are at the center of your worry. And all of a sudden, you’re the parent and they’re the children; and they’re looking to you for safety and quality of life.
The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs.
So, all you sandwich generation people, hold the mayo and your tears. At times like this, you need to see the humor to help you get through.