The Sandwich Generation

Friday, November 23rd, 2018
long-term care nursing home in amarillo

One day a few years ago I picked my mom up to take her to Walmart. I helped her get into the passenger seat of my car. Then I folded up her walker and opened the back door to put it in. It was then that I noticed the car seat buckled onto the back seat. I had a revelation at that moment. I thought to myself, “This is why I’m so tired!”

I’m in what they call the sandwich generation. I’m caring for my grandchildren (at every single opportunity) and my parent(s).

It hadn’t been too long ago that I helped my mom pack up the home that she and Daddy had lived in for the previous 50+ years. My dad sat and said, with every article we showed him, “There’s nothing wrong with that!” or “No, I want to keep that!” or “No, we’re not getting rid of that!” He couldn’t even part with a Southwest Airlines necktie that a pilot had given to him many years before.

Mom and I decided that it might be a good week for him to go visit my sister and her family in Midlothian.

Mom and Dad had decided that it was time to downsize, to move to a more manageable place. They had long talked about moving to an independent living facility where my grandmother used to live. She loved it there and Mom and Dad were looking forward to living there someday. But Mom wasn’t ready to stop cooking and cleaning (can you imagine??). Daddy’s dementia was progressing and she needed help but she just wasn’t quite ready to give up anything else.

We finished packing up the house and had a garage sale. Then she hired some movers and I helped her move them into a 2-bedroom apartment.

I have a sister and a brother but neither of them live close. My dad was spending time at my sister’s (which was a lifesaver for us with the move) and my brother had just started a new job. So I was pretty much on my own, with help from my immediate family here in town. I’m not going to lie, it was really hard. And I wasn’t sure it was the right move.

That’s how it is when parents age. Sometimes you may think you know what is best for them, but if they’re independent and can think for themselves – they get to choose. And it’s right, they should be able to choose. It’s their life. Although my dad had dementia, my mom was very much of sound mind – still is.

Learning how to navigate the relationship with our parents as they age can be tricky. It’s not unlike when you have your first child. There are no rules and the dynamics of every relationship are different. I did read a book called Loving Your Parents by Terry Hargrave that was super helpful.

After 4 months in the 2-bedroom apartment, I moved my parents again. Into the independent living facility that my grandmother had lived in. They loved it there! I think it was everything they’d hoped for, but weren’t sure they were ready until they got there. It was good that they moved there together. When Daddy died a year or so later, the residents were so supportive of Mom. She was among friends, some new and some she’d known for years, and we kids knew that she was in good hands.

Would it have been best for them to move to the independent living facility from their home? Yes, probably. Was it hard to move them twice in 4 months? Absolutely. Did they have the right, and freedom, to choose for themselves? Without a doubt.

Becky Davis
Director of Marketing and Admissions
Bivins Pointe