Sandwich Generation

In the last week and a half I have attended two caregiver conferences. Both of these conferences were presented primarily for family caregivers. The statistics are staggering. There are over one million family caregivers in Virginia, providing over one billion hours of unpaid care per year. Many of these caregivers are in what has been described as the sandwich generation, caring for aging parents while still caring for their own minor children. The number of people who need care will continue to increase, even while the younger people who provide the care declines. In 2010, the family caregiver ratio was 8.5 potential caregivers aged 45-64 for every person in the high risk years of 80-plus. By 2030 this ratio is projected to be 4.2 to 1, and by 2050 is expected to reach 2.8 to 1.

If you are one of these family caregivers, you understand how difficult it can be. Most caregivers are happy to care for their loved one, but it can all get extremely overwhelming, particularly when your loved one is suffering from a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s. Don’t try to go it alone! It is important to assemble a care team to help you care for your loved one. Recruit the help of family and friends as well as medical professionals and other service providers to provide the care that your loved one needs. Make a list of tasks that would help take some of the load off of you and when someone asks if there is anything they can do, ask them to help with a specific task. On the top of the home page of my website at www.solidrockenterprises.com there is an aging in place planning guide that you can download. By working through this planning guide, you can develop a plan to help your loved one successfully age in place. The local chapter of the aging in place council can be reached by phone at (540) 339-7891 or by email at westernandcentralva@ageinplace.org.

At Senior Remodeling Experts, we provide a plethora of services that can make your job as a caregiver much easier. If your loved one has mobility issues, we can provide ramps, wider doorways, levered handles, and accessible bathrooms and kitchens. If they are at risk for a fall, we provide grab bars, handrails, non slip flooring, and fall protection flooring that will absorb 90% of the impact in the event of a fall and prevent broken bones. We provide electronic remote activity monitoring systems that will increase safety as well as independence for your loved one by monitoring their activity and sending an alert if the system is triggered by an event such as wandering, leaving the stove on, not eating or taking medication, or leaving the water running. I believe that technology will play an increasing role in the years to come in helping us care for our loved ones.

Remember, if you are a caregiver, you don’t have to do it all alone. Get some help; take a break before you wear yourself out. There are resources available from a variety of sources. Download the planning guide at www.solidrockenterprises.com. If you need help modifying your home, call Senior Remodeling Experts at (540) 384-2064 or email us at cmoore@solidrockenterprises.com. If you need help in other areas, or you are not sure where to start, call the Western and Central Virginia Council for Aging in Place at the number listed above. I hope and pray that you will find some valuable resources to help you care for your loved one and thank you for being a caregiver!

Solid Rock has written many articles for Housing Matters, including subject matter for Retirement, Enjoying the Outdoors and Aging In Place.  Please visit our Housing Matters Index of articles here.