The Best Years of Your Life?
Jake and Dawn are a couple in their early 50’s. They run their own business and own their home. They have 2 children, ages 15 & 17. Last year, Jake’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Jake’s mother is having a difficult time figuring out how to handle this new crisis in their lives and relies heavily on Jake and Dawn for emotional support and to help her with general household upkeep. Jake and Dawn’s time is stretched thin. Between caring for their children, caring for their parentsʼ home, helping Jake’s mother with medical decisions and working – there is no time to even have a quiet dinner together.
According to Statistics Canada, one-fifth of the population over age 45 is providing unpaid care for a senior. Sandwiched between caring for their own children and caring for aging parents, Jake and Dawn are among this group that has come to be called the Sandwich Generation.
As difficult as things are for Jake and Dawn, let’s shift focus and look at things from Amy’s point of view. Amy is a 75 year old woman. Recently, her husband’s Alzheimer’s has progressed and he cannot even be left alone. She is unsure of how long they will be able to live in their home, and she must now rely on her son and daughter-in-law to help her on an almost daily basis. Things she never gave a second thought to, like going for a walk or a trip to the grocery store, must now be planned or postponed altogether.
Children are finding it challenging to add “caring for their parents” into their already busy life schedules; and senior parents are struggling to maintain some level of independence as they age. This scenario is becoming more commonplace. There are a growing number of businesses providing services for people who find themselves somewhere in the sandwich.
Caring 4 U Support Services is one such business in the Okanagan that provides services to help seniors stay independent in as many ways as possible as they enter the phase of life where they are in need of additional care, thus taking pressure off of younger family members. Jo-Ann Keith, owner, says that for seniors, “Staying active has tremendous health benefits. It helps with mental alertness, maintains physical conditioning and builds self esteem. Sadly, family members often do not have the time in their own schedules to help the senior maintain his or her own routines and lifestyle. The senior ends up at the mercy of the caregiver’s schedule.”
Caring 4 U Support Services will work with seniors or with family members who are responsible for their care to develop a program that is centered on the individual person. In some instances, this means taking the client on weekly visits to shopping centers, recreation facilities, medical appointments or social gatherings.
Where Caring 4 U can really assist a client, however, is in helping him or her to develop life skills to maintain independence in their own environment. Jo-Ann’s training as a Human Service Worker equips her to assist seniors in transforming their home and daily routines wherever necessary in order to promote a safe, liveable place where they are comfortable.
Jo-Ann said, “As a person’s needs and abilities change, basic living space is one component of daily life that is often overlooked. I am trained and have experience in seeing things that family members and seniors wouldn’t necessarily see. Small changes can go a long way in maintaining safety. Helping seniors keep up their own personal daily routines increases their quality of life tremendously.”
The later part of life is often depicted as a lonely time. It doesn’t need to be. Family members don’t have to shoulder all of the physical, emotional and social needs of a senior for whom they are responsible. It also doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Caring 4 U can ease what is perceived as a burden for a cost that is extremely un-burdensome.
If you haven’t found yourself in the sandwich yet, the chances are that you will. It may happen quite suddenly, due to injury or illness. Providing some forethought will ease the transition so the latter years really can be the best years of life. You can contact Caring 4 U Support Services through their website www.caring4u.ca or by telephoning 250-765-8949