People in their 40s or 50s are known as the “sandwich generation” because they often have the responsibilities of providing care to the generations before and after them. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all adults in the sandwich generation are caring for not only their children, but their aging parents as well.
For 85-year-old Robin MacCloskey’s family, it was a challenge that began last April after she suffered a series of falls.
And it did not take them long to realize they were ill-prepared.
“Unfortunately, there was no financial planning for any of this,” said Karen MacClosekey, Robin’s daughter-in-law. “We thought about it way too late.”
The financial considerations are greater than many expect. Food, transportation, medication, and housing can be difficult to afford on a fixed income. But Robin’s daughter Corinne Pearson knows there is no other choice.
“That is part of being a family,” she said.
But the MacCloskey family is hardly alone. Few families are adequately prepared for the challenge.
“They do not realize how much care is actually needed,” said Courtney Smith with the Senior Source, a non-profit organization helping families manage all the considerations of elderly care.
Robin’s family said they looked into senior centers and found them to be outrageously expensive. As a result, they have employed teamwork by coordinating schedules to make sure someone is available to help Robin if needed.
The rest was a test of patience and resources.
“That is what started the journey,” said Karen. “Trying to find ways to supplement what she has.”
State agencies service the aging and disabled likely offer programs or resources which can help families with the burdens of providing elderly care. The MacCloskey family said non-profits like Meals On Wheels have also been invaluable.
Karen has a notebook filled with important phone numbers to different organizations and agencies that can help. She said it took several hours of phone calls and was at times trying on the nerves.
But it was not an option. Because it is family.
“It does not occur to you to not take the extra time. You are just going to do it.”