Have you ever heard of the sandwich generation? It’s when you are a parent who takes care of your own children and your own parents at the same time. Sandwiched in between the generations and responsible for them all at the same time. At least, that’s my attempt at its definition.
I should know…I’ve been doing it for awhile now.
I have friends who are beginning the journey of helping their elderly parents and it’s hard. Hard for the parents to let go and to allow their children to help them and hard for all to realize that life is imminently shorter than we plan for when we are young. The changes that occur as our parents get older are sometimes unimaginable and hard for them and for us to fathom and navigate. I mean, what parent ever wants to give up control to their children? We are the parents after all. (said in the parental authoritative voice!)
But it happens. If we’re lucky to still have our parents and our children be able to have a relationship (and if we still have a good relationship with our parents as well), please remember to feel blessed. Because sometimes as the years go on, family difficulties interfere and our relationships deteriorate.
But in a perfect world, we may be blessed to take care of our parents as they took care of us. This goes for anyone really in the older generations, the aunts and uncles, the older cousins, etc.
So can I give you a little advice especially now that Thanksgiving and the holiday season are arriving?
- Do your best to include them. Make the effort to go get them to bring them to the family get togethers if they are close enough.
- Make them feel important.
- Watch to see how they are doing physically, mentally and emotionally.
- You are now the caretaker so be aware of subtle changes and if you see some, gently approach the subject.
- Get Mom’s favorite recipes now while she remembers them.
- Take pictures! I can’t stress this enough! Get photos of the family together.
- Video tape them telling stories or singing or whatever memory you want to keep. Someday you may wish you could hear their voices again or remember how they sang their favorite song or danced the watusi!
- Be patient. Getting older is not for sissies and they are doing the best they can.
- Role model kindness because your children they will remember how you treated your family.
- Be affectionate with them if that’s your family style. There’s nothing better than taking that extra moment to hug a parent or family member. They will appreciate it as will you.
- Tell them how much you care and love them. During Thanksgiving you can give thanks to them for all that they did for you.
- Include them in favorite memories that showcase their love.
- Be aware that as we get older, it gets harder to remember, to move and to hear other people.
- Take the precious time to talk with them and to ask and to listen attentively to whatever they have to say.
- Try not to put them in the corner and out of the way if they don’t want that because keeping them actively involved helps them immensely.
- Be kinder as you won’t ever regret it later.
- Take it all in stride and be patient with yourself as well.
- Smile and know in your heart you are doing a great job.
- Count your blessings that they are still here to spend time with you.
- Enjoy each and every moment for life goes by in a flash!
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season! I am thankful for my Mom and for those in the older generations of our family. Having loved ones pass away in the last few years has been hard and I pray that you will keep in mind that every moment spent together is precious.