The Sandwich and the Cat
There’s no question about it – being a parent and having ageing parents of your own is stressful! Usually happening in your 40s or 50s (as if hitting that ‘midlife’ milestone wasn’t traumatic enough), it’s that reality of being in the “sandwich generation”.
For something that sounds like it should be delicious, being in the sandwich generation can be challenging.
And it’s only going to affect more people as the baby boomers age, with seniors growing to represent 23%-25% of the Canadian population by 2036 (contrast that
with 14% in 2009).
I recently went through one of the difficult transition periods that a lot of people my age are facing: helping my elderly mother move into a long-term care facility… while juggling my career, kids, marriage, and life in general.
I can tell you it’s not easy. But with the right attitude and a large dose of good communication, it can be done!
Time to Make the Move
After decades of living independently, it became clear that my 92 year old mother needed more hands-on care for everyday living. My siblings and I decided she needed to move to a long-term care home, where her needs could be attended to.
However – and quite understandably – my mom wasn’t happy about making such a big change, particularly because she had to give up her cat Sammy (we did make sure he found a good home). On top of that, she lives all the way out in B.C. while I live in Ontario! I could only do so much to help.
As a family we were trying to make the right choices but my mom didn’t feel like they were the right choices for her.
It Is All about Perspective
As siblings in the generational sandwich, it was time to call upon the skills of communication that mom had taught us as a family.
This was a huge change, and an assault on her independence and dignity. She thought she was doing just fine even though she couldn’t decipher if she was feeding her cat mixed nuts or kibble. But with compassion and understanding, I started to see where my mom’s bitterness was coming from.
We made sure her point of view was heard while focusing on the positives about her now living in a safe environment.
Taking an ageing parent through such a life change is never easy or pleasant. Families who are united in such a process will be stronger for it. Since the move, the cat has come for a visit and we have shared a laugh together which felt very therapeutic for all of us!
More posts? Bring it on!