THE SANDWICH GENERATION
Question: " I am an only child, and my husband and I have two teenagers. I am having a hard time doing everything for my immediate family and now my parents, (80s), who moved close to us last year. My husband says I should stop doing everything for everyone. How can I ignore my kids or parents?"
Question: "My parents (late 70s) have become very demanding. My mother had a minor stroke last summer, and my father has stopped driving. They expect me to drop what I have to do when they want something. Even minor and nonsensical demands have led to bitterness on both sides. They refuse to let anyone else (besides myself) do anything for them."
Answer: No one should consider herself superwomen, and a parent should not expect a daughter (or son) to be a super person. It’s just not realistic or fair to anyone.
I always wonder why sandwich generationers feel only they can do everything themselves for a parent. For some reason they feel guilty about saying “No” or more importantly hiring help for their parent(s) who need the help.
We hire baby sitters for our children, who may be more fragile than older adults. We car pool to reduce our chauffeuring time and have exchange play days, for time for self. We often hire someone else to clean the house or cut the grass.
The same principle (get help) is applicable to elder care.
On the other side of the coin, my “wondering” also applies to the elders. Why do they have such a hard time accepting help from others in general or in hiring someone to do the things they can no longer do for themselves?
Why do they often put themselves -- or a daughter caregiver -- at risk, just to prove they still control everything?
Whatever the age or situation, rejecting help or demanding just one person do it all doesn’t make sense to me. In both of these situations, elder expectations are unrealistic, and everyone needs to adjust. No one can, or should, be an island. Help IS out there. Seek and use it.