The population in America is shifting as baby boomers age and the “sandwich” generation is feeling more and more pressure to take care of aging parents while raising children at the same time.
Increased lifespan (a good thing!) combined with the latest medical advances may mean that adult children could spend 10 to 15 years or more as caregivers for an elderly parent or even two parents! Furthermore, it may be simultaneous or even consecutive, which creates a difficult and lengthy burden on adult children. Also, consider the likely scenario that grandparents may be living as well! Adult children (primarily women) may be responsible for three generations of care-giving for many, many years.
This begs the question: who takes care of the caregivers?
It’s a fact that countless families are being torn apart trying to navigate through the complexities of caring for an aging parent or even two aging parents. Often that duty falls on one son or daughter because other siblings live too far away, are too deeply involved in family conflict, or have stepped aside because they just cannot see a “role” for themselves in the picture as presented. This leaves the one son or daughter to handle their own family, job, and life in addition to dealing with their parent(s)’ medical concerns, transportation needs, quality of life issues, and basic daily life requirements. One person cannot do this alone. It depletes their energy and finances, threatens their performance at work, stresses their relationships with family and children and eventually can lead to the onset of depression, anxiety, guilt, and a host of other psychological issues that can wreak havoc in their life.
Sanchez and Baietto was started, in part, to help families plan before crisis enters the picture. We believe the family is the best first point of contact and our goal is to help the family develop a workable long term care plan for their loved one. Caregivers have no time and therefore develop no plan. What starts out one way can quickly become a much bigger responsibility than what a son or daughter who is caregiving ever envisioned. By that time, however, the son or daughter is trapped in a schedule that gives him or her no chance to plan. Pile on top of that a difficult financial situation and that caregiver feels isolated and unable to even contemplate whether he or she can afford any resources out there.
Our goal is to meet with the entire family including the parent(s) or other senior, if possible, spouses, children and important outside family members who have played a large part in the family dynamic. We know that intra-family conflict gets in the way of planning. Our conflict resolution services work well to help families acknowledge and deal with conflict so that it stops being an obstacle. We are skilled facilitators and we focus on bringing dignity and respect to each member of the family so all involved feel respected, heard and understood. This goes a long way in helping families move past conflict.
Once past conflict, we discuss with the family the aging process and the common issues that occur during this time period. We help prepare them to know what the near future and long term future may hold, how quickly decline can set in, and help them understand what kinds of things must be considered and executed both promptly and over time. Parents or other loved ones have a sense of empowerment knowing they are part of the process and their wishes are going to be valued and abided by in the best possible way. By including everyone, letting everyone speak, and contribute to the process, we dignify the process, give it value, and empower the family to assign themselves roles and duties in the care and management of the situation.
As to resources, we are a wealth of information in the tri-county area in which we work. We are plugged into resources that are available both privately and non-privately, such as non-profit, church and other religious resources. We understand medicare and medicaid and what is available and how they can be used. Care managers, home health service, food and transportation needs are all within our scope of resources. We have access to important professionals needed perhaps to plan wills, powers of attorney, living wills, consider tax planning, etc. We have a sophisticated loop of services that becomes available to our clients through us including those clients who have a seriously stressed financial picture.
In these situations family unity is key. A family coming together to show love, compassion, understanding, and enough care to know that spending some time now to think about these matters will help down the road to prevent crisis is invaluable. For more information about us, please visit our website at www.tampamediations.com.