Kindness and Truth are vital for the Sandwich Generation issues.jpgDuring this holiday season, there are so many fun things to do and grand memories to warm our hearts. Unfortunately, there is also, often, too little sleep, too many meals on the run, and sometimes, unexpected health issues that crop up. Studies show that more elderly are admitted to the hospital during the holidays than the rest of the year. Part of that is because we are visiting elderly relatives and catch problems. But that doesn’t explain it all.

I remember several years ago when I had to leave a Thanksgiving worship service to head home and take my dad to the hospital because pneumonia had hit him again. That turned out to be the pivotal moment in his journey with Parkinson’s Disease as a few days later he entered hospice. That was one of the 2-3 hardest holiday seasons – full of many sad and bittersweet moments interspersed with smiles at the grandkids and hugs with each other.

It was also a time of much less sleep, a ton of worries, extra stress, and so many extra people in our home – hospice workers, relatives coming to help, long distance relatives coming to visit my sweet dad. There were many times we could have argued or hurt each other with unintentionally sharp words.

One passage God kept bringing to my mind was Proverbs 3:3-6. This whole passage is such a blessing to caregivers at any time, and especially when we are in “the trenches.”

Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Those weeks were so hard. I often felt like I was going in circles, wading through darkness, bumping into things mentally. Yet when I look back, I can see how God was leading me directly, specifically, and carefully and never let go of me or my family.

I typed my favorite Bible verses out on a piece of paper and kept it in my pocket. When things would get too overwhelming, I would tell my mom I was going out for 5 minutes and I would walk around the block as fast as I could, while reading from that page. I would come back refreshed physically, emotionally, and spiritually – my way of “writing them on the tablet of my heart.”

Caregiving is never easy. But when we keep our eyes on God, seek to use only kindness with truth as we help our loved ones, and keep God’s Words in our heart (and our pockets), it truly does make a wonderful and positive difference. I pray that this holiday season will shine brightly and beautifully for us all this year. And for those of us that may end up having to deal with the sadly expected – or unexpected, I pray for His provision, His wisdom, and His comfort to surround us – to “wrap us in cotton” full of His love. Blessings to you all!

Sharing our hearts and homes with our senior parents in the Sandwich Generation.jpg

Beverly's Got tons of cute pink things each Saturday to put a smile on the face of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and babysitting grandchildren

Spiritual Sundays are full of encouraging and comforting BIble verses and praise music to lift the hearts of the Sandwich Generation

Sunday Stillness - visit Janis Cox and be blessed by encouraging Bible verses for the Sandwich Generation

The Weekend Brew With words and Scriptures of encouragement for all of us in the Sandwich Generation

Faith-Filled Friday for the Sandwich Generation

Family Home and Life is a blog by a fellow boomer and grandparent and is a delight to visit

Fun for grandparents - in AND out of the Sandwich Generation - at Grand Social

The Sandwich Generation caregiver for aging parents can experience high levels of stressWhat do you do when your Sandwich Generation issues seem about to explode? Recently, a friend asked me for some ideas to help since she was feeling extra stressed juggling the multigenerational issues of babysitting her sweet grandchildren and caring for her aging parents, one of whom has Alzheimers Disease and dementia symptoms. She is definitely deep in the trenches and I could feel her pain, as I've been there myself.

I touched base with some of my most resource-full friends and we came up with some suggestions for her that I hope and pray were a big help. Of course, I immediately thought of you! I knew I had to pass this great info on to you as well. And yes, there is good news and good resources for all of us boomers and seniors taking care of our elderly senior parents. It may not be pefect. But just knowing there are some options can be such an encouragement, don't you think?

Start with your church – many churches do have senior ministries in place, especially the bigger ones. Even if your own church doesn't offer that, they might be networking with another church that does. It's definitely worth asking for help. Even if they don't have a formal ministry, they may have some type of "helps" ministry with volunteers who could come and stay with your parents while you run errands, go for a doctor's appointment, or just take a nap. 

Meals on Wheels. They provide meals – sometimes daily. In rural areas, they bring a week's worth once a week. It's can be provided free if you need it to be or you can chip in – we used them for a long distance relative and it was such a blessing. A neighbor used them as well and it was such a help to her and her caregiver, giving them both a break in both the cooking and budget. 

The U.S. government has some excellent resources for us, including:

  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • The Administration on Aging. Among other things, they have a National Family Caregiver Support Program that varies from state to state. As their site explains, "The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), established in 2000, provides grants to States and Territories, based on their share of the population aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible. The NFCSP offers a range of services to support family caregivers including some respite care."
  • Tax Breaks For Caregiving Expenses Help Sandwich Generation at Forbes.

Hospice – at such time as our aging parents' health gets to a point where they qualify for hospice, it can be wonderful at providing extra help including some caregiving help. They were a real blessing to us. A couple of useful links for them are:

Denise Brown at Caregiving.com had several great links to share including:

Seniors for Living is another resource-full site I value. Michelle Seitzer told me about the site, EasyLiving, with a free "Paying for Home Care" Fact sheet. Seniors For Living also has several excellent reports that are valuable for caregivers including:

SandwichINK at Facebook

Be sure to follow me at Facebookmy profile page as well as both of my Facebook Fan pages – SandwichINK and SandwichINK Real Estate Info. I frequently post excellent links, resources, and information there for Sandwich Generation caregivers and grandparents that I don't get a chance to use here. 

Follow SandwichINK to Twitter for News and Updates for the Sandwich Generation#ElderCareChat at Twitter

#ElderCareChat is another excellent resource that is held at Twitter twice a month. Meetings are on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 1pm ET and the next chat is Wednesday, March 21st at 1pm ET. You can read the most recent meeting's recap by clicking on –  #ElderCareChat Recap 3/7/12: Transportation and Mobility Challenges

ElderCareABC Last but definitely not least, ElderCareABC is another favorite resource of mine – and one where I post monthly guest posts, including March's post – Wheelchair Safety Tips for Caregivers. And speaking of wheelchairs, if your aging parents need one and it's not covered by their insurance, be sure to check with your church to see if they offer loaners. Also, if they live in a retirement community or senior apartment, check with the management there as well. Sometimes they will have a wheelchair and other durable medical equipment "lending library" that can be a big help. Another great resource can be Goodwill. I've spotted wheelchairs for sale there on more than once occasion, along with other useful items for caregivers. Most recently, I saw several unopened packages of Depends for Seniors there at very affordable prices. It can pay to shop there regularly. Your grandkids might enjoy going with you as well. Mine sure love it! 🙂 

Isn't that a great batch of links specific to helping all of us in the Sandwich Generation? And I'm not done. As you all know, I was a finalist in the recent SeniorHomes.com Best of the Web  for the second time in two years. Not only that, I was also, once again, asked to be one of the judges of the finalists (for categories I was NOT in, of course :)). I really enjoy doing that. One of the reasons is that I get to learn about great new resource-full sites and helps for all of us to share with you. So over the next few weeks, on Thursdays, I'll be introducing you to even more great sites and resources to help all of us in the Sandwich Generation, with a focus on baby boomer and senior citizen news and information when caring for our aging parents. Soooo…

The great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Rev. 12:7-11

As a Sandwich Generation senior home care giver and grandmother, doing a sit down Bible study daily is both a vital necessity and a luxury. Many times I opt instead for a great sermon or two on my ipod as I drive on various errands.

Today I was blessed to spend solid time reading through Revelation as I continue to work on Kaye Arthur’s Revelation Precepts course. As I read the passage above, I realized my lamp was shining right into my eyes. At first it was more of a subconscious thought that led to a feeling of irritation. Then I focused on the issue and realized that all I needed to do was turn my chair a bit. Problem solved.

Another example was a game my grandkids and I enjoyed. They loved it, but it was a bit too frustrating for them at their age. We brainstormed and adjusted the rules. Problem solved and positive new lessons are now being worked on as we play it.

Then again, some things can NOT be changed. When an aging parent is placed in the Hospice program or has developed dementia, you can change many of the circumstances, but some things are difficult and even downright unchangeable.

When nothing else can be changed, we have to choose to submit it all to God and rest in His promises. Not that I shouldn’t have submitted the first two issues as well. I’ve learned I need to submit everything and all of me to Him.

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:7

When I’ve hit those solid walls of a one-way situation and feel like I am wedged in tight – no way in or out and the walls are getting closer and closer – that’s when my submission takes on even deeper meaning. When we can’t look anywhere else it makes us look at Him. If we are already looking at Him, it makes us look deeper into His eyes.

Sometimes these occasions will be huge, like hospice. Sometimes tiny, like a room arrangement we can’t change that is driving us nuts. Regardless of size, we will be blessed when we hold it out to God and let it go to Him. I’ve even done that physically and dramatically to help myself. I’ll hold out my hands and tell the Lord, “Here is my situation. I give it to You. Please make sure I leave it with You!”

As John points out in Revelation, we in the Sandwich Generation will be blessed when we choose to submit everything to God even when faced with unchangeable circumstances including death.

As you may know, some of my grandkids and I are spending the summer working on memorizing verses centered around the Fruit of the Spirit. Because of necessary travel, we’ve only had about 3-4 weeks to actually work on it, so we’ve stayed pretty much on the primary verse along with the verses for love, joy, and peace.

While we were apart, I was blessed to see that God is definitely using it in my life to encourage me! Isn’t it great how He will take what we give and multiply it back to us? Our peace verse, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee,” just kept coming back to me over and over, reminding me to make sure I spent time in God’s Word and that I stayed focused on it when worry would start to creep up.

Over the course of several years, I’ve had to deal with a wide variety of difficult situations. Of course, that is probably true for almost all of us, but it does seem to be magnified for Sandwich Generation caregivers, doesn’t it? Because we are so closely tied to so many people we love, we often find ourselves in deep prayer for different friends and family members, hurting almost as much for them as if it was happening directly to us. Whether it’s someone on hospice, a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or heart problems, a friend’s child in the hospital, a family struggling with job woes, or something else entirely different, it causes us to cling all the harder to our beloved Lord and Savior.

As I was enjoying an extended time of prayer and Bible study last month, while praying for a couple of different people, God blessed me with a wonderful passage from 2 Samuel. I offer it to you for those times you will or do need extra encouragement as well.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. “I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. “For the waves of death encompassed me; The torrents of destruction overwhelmed me; The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help {came} into His ears…the LORD was my support. He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.2 Sam 22:1-7, 19b-22

As I read this passage over and over I was reminded of two very important facts.

1.Our enemies are spiritual – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

God keeps bringing this verse to mind. Over the past few decades, I’ve learned that whether you are dealing with illness, discouragement, finances, or anything else, it doesn’t matter. GOD IS IN CONTROL! I just keep reminding myself of that. It doesn’t change the situation, but it does help me keep my mind “stayed on Him!”

2. When the verse refers to “The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,” it’s easy for us to think, “that doesn’t apply to me. I’m certainly not righteous. I blow it all the time!” Ahh, but it’s not our personal righteousness, it’s Jesus Christ’s!

…to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:5

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10

Talk about STRONG ENCOURAGEMENT! I was so blessed by all this, I even sat down and hand wrote it all out to carry it with me and think about it through the day. I could have easily copied it and printed it from Crosswalk.com, but I wanted to use the handwriting to help fix it in my mind. Even though that particular day was extremely stressful, with seemingly “everything that could go wrong, going wrong,” God kept me focused on Him, kept me from stressing out of control, and truly kept me in His perfect peace. It wasn’t me, that’s for sure! We truly serve an awesome God!

I hope and pray that these verses will be a strong light and encouragement to you, along with the knowledge that God has me pray for all of you every day! And yes, I would truly value and appreciate your prayers as well! 🙂  Have a blessed Sunday!