Jeff Pelline: Feeling like a pastrami sandwich on rye
My wife and I were reminded this week that we are poster children for the sandwich generation – caring for your parents and children at the same time.
Earlier this week, we moved my elderly Mom and Dad in with us because they need more of our help. We’ve carved out a comfortable spot for them in our “in-law” unit.
Later in the week, I ran around the Little League field with my son and other 5-year-olds, as the coach of his new Tee Ball team, the Braves. My brother-in-law, who is helping out, is no Braves fan, he told me. I’m OK with it; I’ve interviewed Ted Turner (former owner of the Atlanta Braves) and like his style. Besides, we’re talking about children.
Meet the sandwich generation: make that a fat pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli in New York (www.carnegiedeli.com).
We’re not alone. Millions of others, and many of you, are experiencing the same issues.
I’m not telling you it’s easy. In our case, I’m just glad we can help out.
My wife and I love my parents. They took me to Little League, helped educate me, took care of me for 18 years, loved my wife, and now it’s our turn to help out. My wife’s parents already are gone.
As for our son, that goes without saying: We’re older parents because we focused on our jobs, and nothing is more important to us right now than raising our son. I was thrilled to buy him a baseball glove and pair of cleats for Little League last weekend.
I’m glad we have the wherewithal to help out. But I certainly would never pass judgment on others who find this task insurmountable: it takes a lot of emotional, physical and financial commitment to care for your parents- at home, no less.
The stress can break up families. My wife and I and our friends have seen it happen. So have you.
According to a recent study, nearly half of the women concerned about an aging relative’s health said they are impacted by feelings of depression, compared with only 36 percent who did not have such concerns. The national poll was conducted by the National Association of Social Workers and the New York Academy of Medicine.
“Caring for my own mother was difficult. It was very hard at times to prioritize the needs of my mother and my son,” said a single parent of a 16-year-old who also is caring for her 95-year-old mother in the report. “Juggling those responsibilities is overwhelming and very stressful. I had times when I would cry or I couldn’t eat, and I became depressed about the situation.”
Nevada County is no different than anywhere else- except that finding abundant health care in a rural county can be more difficult.
We have written about the doctor shortage. Caregivers also are difficult to find.
We’ve met some excellent health-care workers here, however. I’m awed at their patience. I’m reminded of Dan, who has helped my Mom and now my Dad with their speech after their strokes.
Here are some services we know about that can help you care for your parents. It is not meant to be a complete list:
• Sierra Nevada Home Care in Grass Valley (530) 274-6350 and Progressive Home Care in Auburn (530) 823-3896, which both provide home care services. You also can hire private in-home caregivers. But you want to conduct a through interview and ask for references, as with all hiring practices. Be patient and look for the right ability, as well as the right personality.
• Hospice of the Foothills, the nonprofit serving terminally ill patients in western Nevada County. Hospice services are provided to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. (www.hospiceofthefoothills.org or (530) 272-5739).
A new study published in the March 2007 issue of the “Journal of Pain and Symptom Management” reports that hospice care may prolong the lives of some terminally ill patients.
“There is a perception among some healthcare providers that symptom relief in hospice, especially the use of opiods and sedatives, could cause patients to die sooner than they would otherwise,” said Stephen Connor, lead author of the study. “This study provides important information to suggest that hospice is related to the longer, not shorter length of survival in many patients.”
• MyNevadaCounty.com is an excellent resource for health care. Go to: http://www.mynevadacounty.com/LivSeniors/index.cfm. You can find out about “Meals on Wheels,” “Senior Centers,” and “Senior Health Services.”
No doubt caring for your parents and children at the same time can be stressful.
But like others in this situation, we remind ourselves that the glass is half-full. Every night, we remember that the people who mean the most to us are all under one roof – three generations of our family and our beloved yellow lab. I guess it’s kind of like the Waltons: “Goodnight Mom, goodnight Dad, goodnight son, goodnight dog.”
Goodnight Mr. and Mrs. Sandwich.
Jeff Pelline is the editor of The Union. His column appears on Saturdays. Contact him at 477-4235, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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