Middle age isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Gone are the carefree days when “life began at 40,” when children were grown and empty-nesters could rediscover each other. Today’s “sandwich” generation’s responsibilities not only include their offspring, but as life expectancies continue to increase, aging parents look to their children for support and compassion. This can be overwhelming for these caretakers caught betwixt and between. Emotionally drained, physically exhausted, uneducated in the paths of long-term care, and feeling inadequate, how can they learn to cope?
This past April, Heritage Pointe of Teaneck in New Jersey, extended its hand to support and show these caretakers how to access services, select an appropriate long-term care setting and help their parents transition to new caregivers, services, technologies and environments. Saundra Pomerantz, CALA, Heritage Pointe’s Director of Communications, joined by realtor Maria, and geriatric psychoanalyst Mosse Burns, LCSW, MSW, met with 10 adult children of aging parents to address their problems and educate them on the options available for providing for their parents.
“All the group members were there because ‘something happened,’” says Pomerantz. The “something” ranged anywhere from falls, depression or forgetting to take medications. Whatever the reason, these adult children were being split between the parent/child relationship and the adult child/parent one, causing a great deal of stress.
“Mimi Rini had a lot of advice to offer since she also has a father in our facility. Her experience as a realtor was a great help in advising the group on how to downsize and how to prepare a house for sale,” say Pomerantz.
Mosse Burns clarified how older people, about to face a major change in their lives, become depressed. “As Mosse explained,” says Pomerantz, “elderly parents will listen to their children, but they don’t hear.” For example, when Rini told her father about Heritage Pointe, he was unreceptive to the idea. However, when he told a friend about the community, the friend said, “Why wouldn’t you move there?” That sealed the deal.
Because of the success of the program, a continuing support group is being considered for the future. The participants had many questions answered and found the solutions for many of their problems. Helping their parents sell their homes and successfully transition to long-term care gave them the time and energy to care for their own families again. “After all, alleviating stress is the heart of the program,” says Pomerantz. For more information on the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.