The Sandwich Generation issues. They definitely seem to be in the news more, don't they? Especially with all the economic woes everywhere. So when I spotted the article, Foreign-Born More Likely to Include Grandparents in Household, by Susan Adcox from About.com, I read it with great interest.
According to her article, the percent of multigenerational families in the U.S. tends to be much higher for those who have come here from another country. Still and all, with over 100,000,000 households registered by the census from 2006-2011, her 5.7% of multigenerational families from the U.S. is over 5 million households (assuming my math is right – which is not necessarily so! 🙂 ). And combined with those who are not originally from America, that's definitely a lot of multigenerational families. And certainly a good number of them reflect the many of us in the Sandwich Generation.
As her first two comments reveal, it's not all peaches and cream to combine households. As with anything else in life, it's certainly not for everyone. And the challenges that can come may, at times, require an awful lot of bottles of Excedrin! Especially for those of us dealing with the more difficult illnesses such as Parkinsons Disease, Alzheimers Disease, etc.
Then again, as my comment and the one following remind us, it can also be immensely rewarding for everyone involved. I know my senior mom is so much happier with me than in a senior apartment or assisted living – even if I can drive her a bit nuts sometimes with my slightly messier ways and going at fast speed 99% of the time. My sweet dad was definitely more relaxed to reside in my master bedroom during his time in hospice. And the hugs we all get from the grandkids – priceless! Not to mention the joy of having a sweet and very close relationship with them.
This is not to say that a care facility should never be an option. There are definitely times for those as well, and that can vary from family to family, relative to relative, and illness to illness. Several of my senior relatives and friends have lived in various care facilities over the past few decades – from independent living to assisted living to a critical care nursing home. And for each of them, at the time, it was the right decision for them and their families. Some chose it because they preferred to maintain a bit more independence. For others, it was a safer option as their loved ones had to work full time and they were no longer able to be left alone.
When discussing this with others, It often reminds me of when my kids were in school. For my children, at various times over the years, we chose homeschooling, public school AND Christian school. And again, at different times, each was the best choice for that particular kid at that particular time. There was no "right or wrong," in spite of what some of our acquaintances may have thought. 🙂 There was, however, a lot of prayerful evaluation as to what would be the best fit for each child each year. The same is definitely true with caregiving. We each have to spend plenty of time thinking and praying over what we should do, and how we should do it, with plenty of communication amongst all involved family members. Then we go forward with our decision, knowing we are doing our best, and knowing that we can always make changes down the road when necessary. And knowing that, while everyone may not agree, we can only do what we can do, and we can only do our best!
For me, having one senior parent living with me, while I stay very busy babysitting half of my grandchildren, is working well. I also have very beloved senior relatives who live far away and, so far, are blessed to continue in their own homes, thanks to good friends and relatives. Some time down the road, any or all of these situations may change and we will trust God's leading there as well. But in the meantime, for us, it's working well. For a sweet loved one who went another route, it worked great for her also. And we are both richer because of the sweet memories we each have – me caring for loved ones at home, surrounded by the sweetness (and, often, craziness) of the great grandkids. Her – stopping by to check on her mom daily, knowing her kids were visiting often, and that she was always available by phone. To me, the key is oversight and supervision, whether up close and personal, delegated and close by, or even long distance. What do you think?