We should increasingly ask how much time and stress is expended by caregivers negotiating with medical and social care systems.
With so many issues commanding headlines at the start of the provincial election campaign, it is easy to understand how caring for frail and elderly citizens can drop off the public's radar. For many British Columbians, however, there can be no more important issue than the availability of care for their elderly loved one.
Whether it's young children growing up and needing your time for activities and school or aging parents needing extra attention, the generation caught in the middle of this is being spread thin. The sandwich generation has become the norm for Canadians, bringing packed schedules and extreme stress.
According to Statistics Canada, the "sandwich generation" now includes more than two million Canadians -- or 28 per cent of all caregivers in Canada -- with the majority being women between 35 and 44 years old. This number is only expected to rise as Canada's population ages and the older generation is no longer capable of caring for themselves. That leaves us with a generation stuck with caring for their late-leaving adult children and their ailing parents at the same time. How do they cope?
As our aging population increases, and most care homes are privately owned and outside of the budget of the average hardworking Canadian, the only other rational option is to move your Mom or Dad into your family home.
The term "Sandwich Generation" refers to adults in their 30s to 50s with children at home and responsibilities to care for aging parents. As a tax professional and a "Squashee" -- I have a daughter in Grade 7 and an elderly father living in my home -- I've got a unique perspective on the tax implications of this juggling act.
Placing my mother in a seniors' residence was the last thing I ever wanted to do. It seemed so final, so rejecting. It marked the end of an era. In reality, it was just a new phase in our relationship and it was one of those tough decisions that had to be made.
Having both parents at work is the norm, which means that childcare obligations must be balanced, often precariously, with workplace duties. At the same time, our population is aging and people often end up having to look after their elderly parents. Effectively, those in the workforce are stuck in the middle, caring for the generations before and after them -- the "Sandwich Generation".
Vicky asks: I've been taking care of my mom who is 74, in poor health and lives on her own. We've never had a very close relationship, and she criticizes everything I do. It doesn't matter if it's house cleaning, taking her to appointments, or getting her groceries -- it's like I can never do anything to her satisfaction.
Ryan asks: At Easter this year I looked around my parent's house and realized that they are not going to be able to live here forever. When do you start talking to your parents about the future and where they going to live as they age?
My wife was recently discharged from the hospital and she is now on many medications. This is very new to me and I find all this medication confusing and overwhelming. What should I do?
Over three million Canadians have diabetes and this number is expected to reach 3.7 million by 2020. Caregivers of people with diabetes, especially seniors, need to learn all they can about stepping up foot care -- from maintenance, to shoe selection.
My dad is becoming increasingly forgetful and confused. He often calls me several times a day and forgets why he is calling. I tried talking to him about my concerns but he became quite agitated. I am really frustrated and don't know what to do?
Being a caregiver can be very demanding. Remember that it is not only okay to ask for support, it's necessary. Caregiving is not often something one person can do on their own, and asking for help is a sign of strength. Guilt comes from unrealistic expectations of what we are capable of doing.
When is it time for you parents to move to a retirement home? The decision to move from the home you've lived in for years to a new community where you may not know anyone is certainly difficult. The important thing is to feel that you are making progress and that helping your parents transition to a retirement community is a positive thing. It is.
Our kids have been with us for so long, day and night, and we miss them. They may have been the focus of our lives. The irony is, we try very hard to be good parents and to raise smart, savvy, caring kids, but if we do, we'll raise them to be independent.
Often it's how you think about money that is keeping you from having enough to live on comfortably. Is it better to be poor and happy than rich and unhappy? Are you optimistic that things will work out somehow? What beliefs have you developed about money and are they sound?
After lengthy marriages, many boomers aren't really keen to put themselves out there. Well, maybe putting themselves out there is the easy part; it's making a commitment to staying there with somebody new that's hard.