The Sandwich Generation Searches for Balance

Many On Balance readers have asked to discuss challenges and solutions for those of us caring for kids and aging parents simultaneously. I'm not in this situation yet -- both my parents are independent and healthy -- so I don't have my own insights. But I came across some fascinating facts in an informative issue of US News and World Report, Taking Care of Mom & Dad that I thought could kick off a great discussion.

According to US News, most Americans grow old in their own communities. In fact, "naturally occuring retirement communities" (NORCs) have recently begun to receive city, state and philanthropic funds, in recognition of how valuable it is for communities to provide for their aging residents -- and for locals to stay put. Some of these "villages" also establish memberships for residents over 50, with services such as a weekly ride to the grocery stores, exercise classes, plumbers, home-health nurses, and other elderly-focused necessities. Other new private housing innovations include "senior cohousing" where small groups of like-minded, similar aged adults move into a group of townhomes or apartment building and pool resources for common kitchens and share chores, medical staff and maintenance. Traditional assisted living facilities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) continue to innovate and offer a wider range of services to the growing pool of aging baby boomers who demand high-quality, customized care.

Although professional services and communities are mushrooming, US News estimates that 19 million Americans are unpaid "informal caregivers" for their families and relatives, providing a staggering 75 to 80 percent of all longterm care in the United States. About 13 percent of the 36 million Americans age 65 and older live with their adult children or other family members. In recognition, some states are experimenting with paying family members to provide care to Medicaid recipients who would otherwise be in nursing homes. The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have designated $1.75 billion in grants to encourage informal caregiving, although most of these programs are early stage and limited to only very low-income seniors.

The biggest challenges facing caregivers are lack of preparation for the physical and mental challenges, proper medical training, and respite care -- someone to give caregivers a break when they need one -- which is especially critical for adults caring for their parents and their children at once. To help out, the American Red Cross, local hospitals, churches and other nonprofit organizations offer numerous courses on safety, nutrition, legal and financial issues. But more support is needed.

Several good online sites recommended in the article include the following:

Family Caregiving 101 -- a range of helpful caregiver advice, information and support
Strength For Caring -- a caregiver chat site sponsored by Johnson & Johnson
Nursing Home Compare -- data on Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes
Longterm Care-- a national clearinghouse for long-term care data
Eldercare Locator -- help finding state and local senior service agencies and community-based support programs

How about you? Do you face these "sandwich" challenges? Do you have any good resources to recommend? What have you found that works -- and doesn't work? What is your advice for those of us not in the thick of these issues yet?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 8, 2007; 7:22 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
Previous: The Kindness of Other Moms | Next: What About Moms Who Want to Work?


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



One recommendation for everyone at they approach their golden years - Long Term Care Insurance. You may think it is expensive but when you compare it the costs you may incur yourself or for your family - it is a great investment. It can protect your assets and your peace of mind.

The 55 and older communities that are popping up everywhere are fantastic. Both my in-laws and parents live in one and once they are ready to leave their single family the options to downgrade are built-in without leaving your community.

Last note, I don't see how our generation's responsibilities are any "harder" - just much more decentralized. Several generations used to live under one roof, which presented it's own problems. Today's generations live States apart and the logistics become the main problem, on top of the emotional and medical problems that come with aging. We choose to stay near our parents partially because we want to help them out as much as possible as they get older.

Posted by: cmac | January 8, 2007 7:58 AM

My mother died several years ago. My father died 2 years ago. He had Alzheimer's the last 1 1/2 years of his life. My brother and his wife took care of him in their house. The best action that my father did was to have his will updated and a medical power of atty and financial power of atty. This allowed us to sell his house when he became disabled rather than deal with all of it after his death. I was the executor of the estate. Dad's planning made my job much easier and it only took 18 months to close out the estate.

It does not take much effort to do the will and POA's. Just the desire and some honest talk. If your parents have not done this, please talk to them about it and have it done. Do it for your self also, esp. if you have kids.

Posted by: Fred | January 8, 2007 7:58 AM

I never planned to be giving birth AND looking into assisted living facilities for my parents. One always has the image of your mom being there for the birth of your first child but not in my case. The greatest gift to a child facing these issues is a sibling (or more). I cannot imagine the what an only child must go through. Helpful siblings create much needed balance!

Posted by: sandwiched | January 8, 2007 8:22 AM

To sandwiched:

My mother died five years before my first child was born. My father remarried a year and a half later, and his new wife didn't want to have a lot to do with us. We lived six hundred miles away, and my husband's parents lived across the Pacific Ocean. When my son was born, I had no one. When my daughter was born seventeen months later, I had no one. When my son was three, my father had a serious heart attack and had to go on dialysis. He never got much better and died several years later. During this time, both of my husband's parents got sick and died, requiring two emergency trips across the Pacific. It was horrible and damaging. We are fortunate that money is not a problem. Nannies don't replace a familial support, but at least we had support.

Posted by: Only child | January 8, 2007 8:30 AM

Try being an only child with parents (70 and 62) in denial and living in another state. They don't even have a will! And I dread the day (months!) when I have to clean out the house I grew up in. They'll never move/downsize and have been there almost 37 years!

On a side note, when I had all four of my grandparents -- my dad was one of 4 boys, my mom was the middle of 4 girls and a boy -- not exactly helpful siblings. Some weren't there at all except when it came to "throwing things out", some were there too much, no one wanted boxes of pictures (so they're in my parents house and I'll just throw them out when I have to "clean), etc.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | January 8, 2007 8:33 AM

Wonderful comments...very helpful advice. Seems like these situations can get very messy and sometimes it is hard to know what to do until it is too late. Thanks for sharing your suggestions.

And Only Child -- I know several people with the same kind of experience of a father subsuming his first family attachments once he remarries. Very hard, especially for an only child. I think the long distances separating families, the fact that people live longer lives, and the increased number of divorced parents, does make our generation's issues more complicated. There are many upsides but the situations become more complex, which is why support and advice-sharing is needed.

Posted by: Leslie | January 8, 2007 8:36 AM

The best advice? Plan ahead. My mom decided to move into a CCRF last year, and though she initially wanted to stay in California, she eventually decided to move near me. Had she stayed in CA, I would have had relevant power of attorney and other papers drawn up for old family friends since I would be a day's flight away from her. (I'm an only child, as well.)

Anyway, she qualified for a local CCRF and is now only minutes from my house. She loves being around the grandkids, and it's peace of mind for me.

Moving to CA wasn't possible for us, without giving up good schools and a decent house, and our job skills are not very portable. The cost of living near my mom's old house is very high, and the schools are atrocious in that area.

Unfortunately, CCRFs are very expensive, and it was only because her teeny house in CA sold for an obscene amount that she is doing as well as she is. Her CCRF has some financial assistance available, but it's not a lot, and certainly not enough for someone with just a SS check and a minimal amount of housing equity.

And while I understand what "sandwiched" says completely, please don't let this blog turn into an ugly-only-children-are-bad debate. There are different family situations everywhere, and the bottom line is still to plan ahead when one is able.

Posted by: Arlington Mom | January 8, 2007 8:37 AM

This is a timely discussion for us too. Various siblings of mine are evaluating job transfers -- and it looks like we may be in the position where NO ONE lives near my parents anymore. I think this is common for our generation and the whole 'caregiving from a distance' thing adds a new twist to the problems faced. If you're the ONE sibling who still lives near mom and dad how do keep from feeling exploited or used by other siblings who live far away and seem to help less? Is it reasonable to ask mom or dad to move away from their home, hometown, home state if they can no longer care for themselves? At the moment, both my own parents and my husband's mom have stated that they would NEVER move -- not even to be closer to children. I'd be curious to hear from others who moved away and subsequently had parents move to join them in their region of the country. Did Mom and/or Dad adjust? Did you regret doing it or was it the right decision?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 8, 2007 8:43 AM

visiting nurses can be a great resource for the elderly who remain in their homes, and they cost less than I expected.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 8, 2007 8:48 AM

Columbia, MD,

Many people will not write a will due to denial. It is tough to think about your death. I know that my wife and I had to think hard on a guardian for the one minor child we have at home. Also many people assume that the property will pass on automatically under the respective state law, esp. if only one child is involved. Well, it might eventually, after you spend years in court. As I say, all my dad's legal affairs were in order but it was still 18 months!

I think that you may want to seize this issue. Directly ask your parents to do this. You may want to go as far as finding a lawyer if your parents don't have one. You can tell them that you don't even need to see the documents, just know that they are prepared and where they are.

Posted by: Fred | January 8, 2007 8:57 AM

I agree that one should have some sort of support network, but I disagree that it must be siblings. My mother is an only child and when my grandmother was going through trying to find care facilities and later when she got sick, the main things that seemed to help her were the power of attorney, actually listening to my grandmother while she was able to make her decisions (this one was key, that the person in question's voice was heard and her wishes obeyed as far as was practicable) and a support network of family members and friends.

I'm an only child as well, and I have an amazing network of support people who have helped me through many things before and I have done the same for them -- especially when you're an only child, the definitions of "family" and "sibling" can become much more elastic than "those related by blood" -- and I know that my parents both have the papers currently appropriate drawn up and that we will decide when to draw up the others (power of attorney and such) when the time comes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 8:59 AM

I agree that one should have some sort of support network, but I disagree that it must be siblings. My mother is an only child and when my grandmother was going through trying to find care facilities and later when she got sick, the main things that seemed to help her were the power of attorney, actually listening to my grandmother while she was able to make her decisions (this one was key, that the person in question's voice was heard and her wishes obeyed as far as was practicable) and a support network of family members and friends.

I'm an only child as well, and I have an amazing network of support people who have helped me through many things before and I have done the same for them -- especially when you're an only child, the definitions of "family" and "sibling" can become much more elastic than "those related by blood" -- and I know that my parents both have the papers currently appropriate drawn up and that we will decide when to draw up the others (power of attorney and such) when the time comes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 8:59 AM

Unfortunately, the obvious ways to make caring for multiple family members of various ages and locations easier involve harsh trade-offs and/or impossible dreams:

1) Don't move from your old hometown. In fact, don't even go on business trips or vacations, in case someone might need you.

2) Get a high-paying, completely flexible career with a totally understanding boss.

3) Only marry or give birth to completely mature, selfless people who are or become very independent.

If you can't do these things, (as is probably obvious, I couldn't) a bad stretch is probably somewhere in your future. That's not a hunch, it's a near certainty.

I was an only child whose parents got sick and died over a two year period in a state 1,000 miles away. They couldn't or wouldn't move anywhere or change anything until the paramedics carried out them out the front door.

Cleaning out the house took seven months because I could only do it four days at a time, since I was still making all my deadlines at work. The estates took over three years to settle, during which my husband's new job took us on a 800-mile move in a different direction.

This is the way we live now.

Deciding what's most important shifts from year to year, and sometimes, moment to moment. If I had it to do over, I honestly can't think of a thing that was in my power to change. We all do the best we can.

Posted by: Arlene | January 8, 2007 9:02 AM

Arlington Mom here. I can't speak to feeling exploited that the other siblings aren't helping "enough" (I'm an only), but I'd try to answer your other questions. As I said above, I did have my mom, still living independently (and well) in her house, across the country to VA.

You asked, "Is it reasonable to ask mom or dad to move away from their home, hometown, home state if they can no longer care for themselves?" I think the answer to this question depends on the resources the parent(s) has (have). If they have some financial resources, then I think it is reasonable to ask them to make plans for their own care for when their health begins to fail. Whether that means finding a CCRF, a home-visit nursing situation, or something like that. I do think, though, it is reasonable to ask them to identify a local, healthy, trustworthy and younger person to act as power of attorney to carry out living will decisions, have access to some of your parent's cash, that sort of thing, since you or other siblings can't be there. But, if financial resources are not there (whether it's the parent's or the kids'), and finding affordable care and assistance is going to be really difficult, such that an adult child is going to have to provide the care for free, then asking them to move is reasonable. It depends on what they have financially and what the siblings are willing to provide.

My mom said she never wanted to move from CA. We were going so far as planning to fly me out to help her tour various CCRFs near her. Then, just as I called her to make the final date arrangements so I could book a ticket, she said she wanted to be near me, since she felt that a child could look better after her than any friend could. So, in that sense, it was easy for me.

My mom has made a lot of new friends in the CCRF. Since it is a community, there are a lot of activities, one meal a day (most residents choose dinner) is included so that becomes the social hour, and there's been occasions where I call her to do something and she can't, because she's doing something else with new friends. On the other hand, as a colleague of mine found out, it was disastrous to move mom out of state to a single-family home nearby a sibling, with no network for mom to plug into. Sibling and mom were having a rough time of it. I know in our situation, having that built-in community was huge.

The big plus, though, is seeing us and the grandkids. She said, she sees both her old friends back in CA at their CCRF plus ones at her CCRF, who are hundreds of miles from their kids and grandchildren. My mom says she would have been a lot worse off being that far from us, since she loves hanging out with us on weekends, and it's fine with us.

Hope this helps, Armchair Mom!

Posted by: To Armchair Mom: | January 8, 2007 9:08 AM

I am the move away child in my family. There were just no jobs for me and my husband where we grew up, so our siblings will probably have to share the burden of elderly parents more than us. Is that fair? I don't know, I could argue that it's not fair that I will have student loans, day care bills and the cost of elderly parents at the same time. My mom says when she got pregnant with me at 35 she didn't want another baby, now she says I am her retirement fund! So, I will be shouldering the financial burden and my siblings will have to drive back and forth to the doctor's appointments and such. Sometimes life is what it is I guess. Although, I have to say that when my daughter gets bigger, I will gladly move to where she is living when I am old.

Posted by: scarry | January 8, 2007 9:09 AM

Arlene:

You & I should get together! I like your attitude. You don't say whether you had kids during this time. I'm not sure what the impact on small kids is. My are now teenagers, and I'm still pondering this. In some ways it made us closer as a family because we had to get through it together, but I'm still a little envious of those people who've never had to face this kind of difficulty.

Posted by: Only Child | January 8, 2007 9:18 AM

Great, tough topic today. Thoughts on previous posts - I'm married to an only child and we are responsible for his parents. He has always said he likes being an only except sometimes dealing with his parents - it might be nice to have a sibling. That is counterbalanced by my own mother's experience. Her parents aged rather poorly, and her brother, who lives in the same town as they do, was ZERO help. No visits, no going with them to the doctor, nothing. So having a sibling isn't necessarily good insurance against having to face this alone. I'd think sometimes it adds a bad dimension because not only are you sad and tired from dealing with your parents, but you are frustrated with your siblings for not doing anything.
An interesting balance twist to this - my MIL, who is a nice person, stayed home with my husband his entire life. Didn't work for the past 30-35 years. Now she & her husband are dependent on us for $$, and ironically, still tries to guilt me for not staying home with my own child. I find it very difficult to bite my tongue and not yell at her that if she had worked, at least when my husband was in jr.high/high school and beyond (he is now 35), maybe they'd be less stressed financially, not to mention the fact that I work primarily because I love my job, but that we NEED my income now because my in laws need $$ from us! Phew. That felt good to get off my chest (and disclaimer - that should in no way reflect anything I feel about SAHM/WOHM. To each his own, unless you're my SAHM MIL that simultaneously takes my $$ and complains I work!).

Posted by: Tough topic! | January 8, 2007 9:21 AM

I don't have kids, but I do recall the span of about 4 years when both of my dad's parents got sick and eventually passed away. There were long weeks and months of hospital/nursing home visits before each of them passed away. My dad and his older brother were the only two of four siblings that lived close by, so naturally it was our two families that did most of the immediate caregiving, visiting, consults with doctors and "BIG" end of life decisions.

I know that this topic is about maintaining balance in these situations, so I completely understand the chat about the burden of being the only sibling close enough to care for aging parents. However, I want to comment on the flip side - while stressful and difficult, I think it was a blessing and a really meaningful life expereince for my dad and uncle to be there for their parents in their dying days. The early mornings before work and late evenings after work that I spent at the hospital with my grandpa were some of the most precious, cherished times I spent with him...through the whole thing I just kept thinking how hard it would be to NOT be available to take on that "burden."

So, yes, we all need to take care of family and kids during the years when parents are aging and sick...but I hope most people do see the gift that those years can be, too...a chance to take care of parents who always took care of us.

Posted by: Mpls | January 8, 2007 9:47 AM

This really is not an issue of siblings or only children. My husband has two siblings. Both of them have been a financial and emotional strain on his father throughout their entire lives. They are the primary reason why his father has little to no retirement savings anymore. They both also live nearby, as do we. When his father had a stroke two years ago, my husband's siblings showed no effort to help out while he recovered, and in fact his brother took his father's ATM card to borrow money while he was incappacitated. My husband and I have taken care of his father ever since, with no help from either sibling. They claim it is because they have children (which my FIL has always helped to support financially) and should not have to have the burden of caring for their father. Now that we are expecting our own baby next month, they of course do not plan on changing and helping out.

Really, don't make this an issue of siblings or only children. The best thing one can do is plan their own retirement so as not to be a burden on anyone, regardless of how many children you have. You can't count on the fact they will take care of you, no matter how much you've done for them.

Posted by: TS | January 8, 2007 9:55 AM

What a timely topic. I am going back to visit my family this month, and these are things we will be talking about. My parents aren't elderly yet--early 60's, newly and semi retired--but THEIR parents are still living--at 83 and 93 years of age (mothers only). I am 37! The nicest thing gma did for my mom was finally downsize from her large house to a condo. She passed out her belongings to the grandkids that wanted them and took only what would fit and sold the house! She couldn't be happier and wished she had done it earlier now that she sees how easy it is to maintain. When the time comes it will be much easier on whomever it falls to take care of things. After helping her move, my mom says she promises not to stick us with a bunch of work clearing out her house--so for Christmas I gave her all consumables!!!

Posted by: jane | January 8, 2007 9:56 AM

My wife is an only child, and last year her surviving parent died suddenly (literally within hours of collapsing). We do not live close by; she flew there the next day and I followed by car a few days later.

Fortunately she had a good friend who was able to go with her, and my sister lived close enough (80 miles) that she could be there with her as well until I could get there. She still has to travel back and forth to deal with the estate (a local attorney is handling it, but she still has to go through a house's worth of memories and decide what to do with everything before the settlement is complete), and I have no idea how she'd manage if we had a small child as well.

My father is my only surviving parent, and he's named me the executor of his will. He's married twice since my mother died, though, so I am NOT looking forward to dealing with THAT whole mess!

Posted by: John | January 8, 2007 9:58 AM

Another only child, here. I'm certainly not going to hold it against my mother for not having more kids. That logic is just beyond me.

My husband's maternal grandmother is still around. Due to her extreme Alzheimer's, she's now in an assisted living facility. But not before her one coked-up son was draining her bank account and taking cash from her. And now my mother-in-law (his sister) just said that she finally got his credit card paid off.

Sometimes siblings can form a great support unit. Other times, it can help divide an already troubled family.

When my own grandmother died, my uncle was fighting his own demons with vodka and prescription drugs. He attempted to clean out the garage and made more of a mess for my mother and I to clean up. His wife did more work in helping clean out that house than he ever did. And then a year-and-a-half later, he killed himself.

Please don't make blanket statements that siblings are "gifts". Sometimes they're a nuisance and a liability.

Posted by: NoSibs | January 8, 2007 10:15 AM

This is a very interesting topic. My 93-year old mother-in-law moved into our home in June. While my husband and I are not technically "sandwiched" because our son (an only, sorry to say!) is an adult in his mid-30s, there is still much balancing that was needed, and is still needed. First we had to make structural changes within our two-story home so that there would be access to the second floor bedrooms and bathrooms. This was quite expensive. Finding a day care provider was also difficult and expensive. My husband had to make changes to his work schedule to accommodate the caregiver's schedule. Each of us has had to use several days of vacation when we had no one on a particular day and the other had appointments that could not be changed. Reliability was a big issue, but thankfully we found an adult day care center that was close and affordable. Our lives pre-June were peaceful, predictable, and full. Almost overnight we have been swept back into days of "don't" and "stop" and changing diapers and wet linen and clothing. My husband said only last night that he did not expect to have no peace and essentially no life at his age. This is hard work for anyone but especially for people approaching their own retirement with their own health issues.

I agree that we're not the first generation with the responsibility of caring for aging relatives. Yes families lived together in the same household (this was my growing-up experience). But this was also during a time when in all probability only the male member(s) of the household worked. As a rule women were home caring for children, etc. Now one working spouse is the exception rather than the rule and the entire point of this column, right? Having full responsibility for someone who can only put food and drink into her mouth, talk, and sleep without assistance is daunting. Nursing home care, something that previously I am positive my husband would never have considered, is now being investigated. The reality is that we need to think not just about the best solution for my mother-in-law, but also for us. I did not know anything about respite care until recently but am seriously researching it. That could indeed be a solution. I am hopeful that we will soon be able to restore some "balance" in our lives. We are missing it!

In the meantime we have planned for our retirement insofar as LTC insurance, savings, 401(k), etc. so that hopefully our only won't be saddled with either the responsibilities or heartache that we've experienced with my parents and in-laws.

Posted by: RPStew | January 8, 2007 10:19 AM

I am only 23, but have been begging my parents to draw up wills and explicitly state what should be done with their estates. My parents are divorced. My father is remarried and I know I will have to fight his wife and 3 step-children for the artifacts that are rightfully mine. As for my mother... I am named on her mortgage. I have asked her repeatedly to buy life ins so that I won't drown in her debts and despite the fact that she contends she will not live beyond 60 (just 10 years from now), she ignores my pleas. I too, am an only child, and this is a topic I struggle with regularly.
At my age, I have already bought several life ins policies and laid out my final wishes. I don't want my family to struggle if something were to happen to me. Is it wrong for me to feel my parents are being selfish for not giving me the same consideration?

Posted by: SMitch | January 8, 2007 10:29 AM

More than one sibling in the area to take care of an aging parent doesn't necessarily mean the tasks of caregiving are equitable. My husband and his 2 brothers both live close to my recently widowed MIL but we shoulder the burden of helping her. She is still energentic and independent but there are some things she just can not do - like put up a Xmas tree and outside lights - lift boxes, move furniture. Plus she just gets lonely.

I knew it would be this way. Right before my FIL died he told my MIL he wouldn't worry about her since my husband and I would always take care of her. He knew the situation - and he was right as usual!

It is frustrating and my husband has a hard time asking for help from his brothers - but fortunately I do not. I get isgnored and turned down with the lamest excuses in the world, but I will continue to ask the other brothers for their time, since it is THEIR MOTHER.

As Scary said, it is what it is.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:29 AM

The 13% figure surprised me. It seems high. I wonder if this number is largely semi-recent immigrant families, and families from non-anglo/european backgrounds. It seems that non-white families are more likely to live in multi-generational households. I know for our own part, my parents (waspy as they come) would never consider moving in with their kids. They would consider it shameful, no matter what we say. But we fully expect to have my husband's parents live with us some day, as that's the norm in their culture.

Does anyone else have this impression, or is it a result of my own admittedly skewed family dynamics?

Posted by: CH | January 8, 2007 10:31 AM

Another only child here (and so is my husband). Our parents (with the exception of husband's biodad) have all passed on. My husband does have stepsibs but they did not help at all, of course my father-in-law didn't want them to when he got ill in 2005.

But I have to strongly disagree about the only child thing. You shouldn't "give" your child a sibling just because of that. I have known many people who had siblings who ended up taking care of their parents alone due to distance of the other siblings or else some estrangement of the family.

Having another child is NO guarantee that you will get help when your parents are ill.

Posted by: librarianmom | January 8, 2007 10:37 AM

We hit this topic in my family about 10 months ago... but we also hit a big snag -- my grandmother has a reverse mortgage, which no one knew about. The way it is structured, she will pay over half of the sales price to mortgage holder (note: they don't structure these loans the same way any more). This leaves precious little money for her to downsize so she is aging in place, which is a little scary. I encourage open communication about money, wills, power of attorney, etc. Our family would have acted differently if we had known grandmother was in financial difficulty and pondering the reverse mortgage at all.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 8, 2007 10:37 AM

I have a great idea - let's just outsource it all. Raising the kids, caring for our parents - that way no one has to be inconvenienced.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:38 AM

"Is it wrong for me to feel my parents are being selfish for not giving me the same consideration?"

Not at all. Parenthood is often viewed as a selfless role. And often it is. But there are always two sides to a coin, and parents can also portray a great deal of selfishness.

And why, especially after your pleas and requests, they haven't done anything to help you is an example of such.

You're wise beyond your years. Can't say I know too many 23 year olds with such foresight. Hell, most don't have health insurance!

Maybe try writing them letters to explain how you feel, and describe how you don't want it to turn out in the end. Sometimes getting a letter from a loved one has more power than a regular conversation. It's worth a try...

Posted by: NoSibs | January 8, 2007 10:40 AM

have a great idea - let's just outsource it all. Raising the kids, caring for our parents - that way no one has to be inconvenienced.

China, INdia, or Mexico?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:41 AM

My mother has said she will never move to the East Coast-- even though that is where her only grandchild is (my son). This really hurt my feelings-- her feeling s for a place seem stronger than her feelings for me and my child. I'm a pretty empathetic person, but when I put myself in her shoes, I just can't imagine not wanting to be close to my children and (God willing) my children's children. My husband's family also never visits us-- not that I'm complaining about that, mind you! But I wonder if my belief that I would go to the ends of the earth to be with my child and grandkids is soem crazy idea and that over time I will actually feel a stronger pull to the DC community than i have now-- a pull that even blood-ties will not dilute. Or is my parents generation (boomer) just more self-centered than my own? Less willing to embrace the title grandparent than I would be (Or think I would be). It does seem like Gen X parents are more involved parents than boomers and I guess it follows that we will be more involved grandparents.

Posted by: LSE | January 8, 2007 10:45 AM

speaking of involved grandparents... how about over-inovlved grandparents.... anyone ever heard of a grandma-to-be shower? Is it just me or is that crazy!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:48 AM

I have a great idea - let's just outsource it all. Raising the kids, caring for our parents - that way no one has to be inconvenienced.

Posted by: | January 8, 2007 10:38 AM

That comment certainly was constructive.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:51 AM

Question for folks smarter than I - how do you balance caring for your aging parents physically and financially when they expect you do to so, but to their own specifications? For example, they expect their children to help pay for a CCRC, but only in the state where they live - far away (necessitating air travel) instead of coming to be near you, and won't take advice? Isn't it - whoever pays is in charge?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:55 AM

"My mother has said she will never move to the East Coast-- even though that is where her only grandchild is (my son). This really hurt my feelings-- her feeling s for a place seem stronger than her feelings for me and my child."

Don't you think it's a bit selfish for you to expect your mother to move to where you are? Why don't you move to where she is if it's so important to you for your child to live near her?

Posted by: westerner | January 8, 2007 10:57 AM

"It does seem like Gen X parents are more involved parents than boomers and I guess it follows that we will be more involved grandparents."

You can't possibly generalize like this. And as for not moving to the East Coast, some people have a very strong attachment to places. My mother grew up in Oklahoma and plans on moving back there (from New England) when she retires. It's a move that will place her much farther away from me and any children my husband and I have, but I can't imagine interpreting her choice as "You love Oklahoma more than you love me."

Posted by: Lizzie | January 8, 2007 10:58 AM

I'm not in the sandwich generation yet, but it is on the horizon and things are not looking good. We had to drive up to my husband's mother's home after Christmas because she can't travel anymore. Evidently it is something called pre-alzheimer's. I've never heard of it, but dementia in any form isn't a good thing. She is a special lady. However, it is painful to watch my kids grow and her regress. The dichotomy of seeing kids grow up and reach for life vs. someone leavng life is a new one for us. We're still learning how to deal with it. We don't live near her at all and her other children are in denial. The next few years will be a challenge.

Posted by: dotted | January 8, 2007 11:04 AM

My mom hired several illegals from Catholic Charities to provide 24 hour care for my Grandmother in her last few months. I suggest it for anybody who has a live-in elder that could benefit from assisted living.

Posted by: Outsorced | January 8, 2007 11:07 AM

I was never sandwiched; however, there was a time when I was doing the sandwiching. When I was around 7, my grandfather with Alzheimers came to live with his only son (my father). At that age, the finacial problems, which there were A LOT of, didn't affect me as much as the emotional issues that had to be delt with.
It's hard to live with a dying parent, especially one dying from a disease like Alzheimers. Even though we had help during the week while both of my parents were at work, during the weekends it was like having a child with the physical capabilities of a full grown adult. It's the things you don't think about til it happens, like what do you do when grandpa wants to go somewhere so he leaves the house while your not paying attention and gets lost because he can't remember where anything is? (That happened twice, had to call the police and everything) It was very difficult for my father to watch his dad go through that and watch as he deteriorated, especially when it got to the point when he stoped remembering who everyone was.
Today Im very thankful that: 1) After going through this my parents are VERY protective of their retirement money and have extensive plans in place. 2) That the long term and nursing care facilities have gotten much better since my father had to make the decision for my grandfather. Had my father had better options before, things may have been very different. 3) My family stayed local and although my father didn't have any help (there's no other family on his side to speak of) at least he wasn't hampered by any unhelpful family members.

Posted by: sandwicher | January 8, 2007 11:15 AM

"This really hurt my feelings-- her feeling s for a place seem stronger than her feelings for me and my child."

Geez, LSA, it appears as though you've taken quite a self-serving view of both you mother and yourself. Let me take a shot at re-characterizing the same set of "facts" you present: your feelings for a place must be stronger than your feelings for your mother and your son (who will have less time to get to know his grandmother because of your refusal to relocate) or you'd move to where your mother lives. Seriously, if the best thing for your son is to get to know his grandmother, than why don't you get on over yourself and relocate to be close to your mom? After devoting significant years to raising you, your mom has only now, perhaps, developed real, by-god friends, be involved in her community in a variety of ways possible including a faith community, and just frankly likes where she lives? But you interpret her refusal to uproot herself to a place where she knows no one but you and your family as a character flaw? Talk about self-involved. Pot meet kettle.

"It does seem like Gen X parents are more involved parents than boomers and I guess it follows that we will be more involved grandparents."

This comment, however, takes the cake. If you want to pat yourself on the back, you might at least skip the part where you bash an entire generation of others. Instead of being fitted for your halo now, and on behalf of your entire generation, no less, let's give it 25 years or so to see how involved you are as a parent first, then as a grandparent. You've got a whole lot of living, parenting, and daughtering to do between now and then.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 11:17 AM

"My father is remarried and I know I will have to fight his wife and 3 step-children for the artifacts that are rightfully mine." -- What makes the artifacts "rightfully" yours? I never understood the feeling of entitlement that many people have regarding their parents things and money. I always believed that it is theirs to do what they want with. I always hoped that my mother would enjoy her final years, even if it meant spending every penny. I hated seeing her being frugal because she wanted to "leave us something". We are self-sufficient adults and only wanted her to enjoy her golden years. I really feel sorry for those who complain about their parents "spending their inheritance" - how shallow.

Your mother's debts are hers and there is no reason that you will be drowning in her debt. Her estate will be responsible for paying her debts, you personally won't be responsible. If your name is on her mortgage, be sure it is also on the deed to the house. Then, look at it as you gaining a house, not inheriting her debt. If she doesn't take out a life insurance policy, there is nothing stopping you from taking one out on her. Pay the premiums and name yourself as beneficiary.

Posted by: to SMitch | January 8, 2007 11:25 AM

Westerner and Lizzie, you are clearly better people than I am. YEs I realize that I could move closer to my parents, but my husband can only work in DC for his job, and i don't think being closer to my mom is worth breaking up a wonderful marriage.

I do feel I take being a parent more seriously than my parents did and my friends feel the same way. My parnets would always leave us in the car when grocery shopping. It wasn't unusual. Now it is unheard of. And reading every night, staying home when they are sick, etc.-- it is all just more involved now compared to when I was a kid. I just have to think that today's parents will also be more involved grandparents than our parents are. I guess I could just talk about my family, but I figured that would seem selfish, so I presented it as a generalization so that it is relevant to others. Guess that was wrong. But I haven't heard anything to dispute my generalization that todcay's parents are more involved parents than our own parents were.

Posted by: LSE | January 8, 2007 11:27 AM

My husband is an only. MIL is in-between Assisted Living and Nursing care.

I thank God that FIL was a federal employee. She's got some income and insurance. Our concerns are supervising care and visiting. I don't know how people with money problems cope!

You need to be around. You don't have to spend hours every day, but you need to show up regularly. MIL has a sore from a footrest on her wheelchair that rubs. We've had it adjusted several times, yet every time we visit her foot is improperly positioned.

I think families with multiple siblings can work things out. One can handle finances while another visits daily. Others can provide vacation relief or fill other roles. When you are an only child it's a bit advantage if your parent is close because you (and your spouse) need to do all those things.

Posted by: RoseG | January 8, 2007 11:33 AM

"I never understood the feeling of entitlement that many people have regarding their parents things and money."

There's a difference between wanting to inherit as much money as possible from your parents and wanting the pressed-glass butter dish that your grandmother used every day of her life. I don't see anything wrong with the latter.

"Westerner and Lizzie, you are clearly better people than I am."

Since I don't expect my parents to completely uproot the lives they have spent several decades building and move to a place they have no connection to apart from me and interpret their failure to do so as a referendum on the depth of their love for me, yes, I guess I am.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 8, 2007 11:33 AM

My husband and I have been on both sides of the near and far to parents issue. My parents, both deceased, lived several states away, so my brother had their day-to-day care, and I drove up and down the highway to try to help. Now, though, he has to take care of our disabled sister who is a real handful in her late 50s.

On the other hand, my husband and I take care of his mother, who's 84 and in assisted living (dementia of some sort) and pretty much helpless. His sisters live several states away and feel terrible that they aren't here to help.

My father-in-law is the real challenge - lives in Mexico with his third wife (a very nice person, actually). I am most worried about his situation because, although he is in good health, we will have to deal with Mexican laws and American laws when he passes, even though he has a will. We can't get to him quickly, so I know we're going to have a time.

Sandwich is a good term for all of this, even though both of our own children are grown and on their own. I pray we do a better job protecting them from experiences like the ones we have already had and expect to have.

Posted by: JSW | January 8, 2007 11:39 AM

LSE, maybe this generation of parents are more involved. Unfortuneately the name helicopter parent has been developed during this generation as well. So there are two sides to this coin.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | January 8, 2007 11:43 AM

Mary had aging father living with her and did all hands-on care, errand running, doctor visits, etc. Mary was in her 60's and this was hard on her.

Mary's sister Susan lives 3 hours away and doesn't provide relief to Mary. Susan said that if it is too much for Mary, then maybe Daddy should be in a nursing home. Money is not an issue since Daddy has plenty.

Mary said that Daddy will not be in a nursing home as long as she is alive, and why should they "throw his money away" when she can take care of him. Susan said, I can't provide that kind of help. He will always be taken care of, but I can't do the hands on; if it is up to me, I will get assisted living and/or nursing home help for him.

Mary complains bitterly that Susan doesn't help. The sisters are just about on non-speaking terms.

Moral - decide ahead of time who can do what. One might be better at handling personal business such as banking and bill paying. Another might be better handling medical issues and appointments. Another might be better at hands on personal care. Yet another might be able to run the house by keeping it clean and repaired and stocked with food.

Find your strengths and work with them. As long as each sibling is doing their best to help parents, don't turn it into a war if their idea of "best" is different than yours.

Posted by: anonfornow | January 8, 2007 11:51 AM

Mmmmm ... sandwich.

Posted by: Homer S. | January 8, 2007 11:52 AM

Getting back to my earlier comment, my father has left a will basically splitting the family farm into four equally sized parts (one for each of us children). He feels it is better to leave it in our name than selling it, even though none of us live nearby and the issue about the structures on the land (two houses and farm buildings) cannot be equitably split amongst us.

Then there's the current wife and ex-wife. Current wife, according to the will, gets to live on the land as long as she wishes. Ex-wife gets to live in the house he built for his original wife for as long as she wishes, but neither one's children are eligible for anything in the will (4 children-exwife, 2 current wife, none are his).

I can see this is going to be one massive headache for the executor (me) when it is time for the will to be executed. I'm thinking I'd rather give up the executor role, but he's named his current wife as backup executor, which I think is a BAD IDEA.

Any suggestions?

Posted by: John | January 8, 2007 11:56 AM

A big part of the problem is that you are dealng with people who may be on a mental and emotional decline. Logical steps become battlegrounds as people live in denial and make poor choices. I worked in a bank and numerous times saw "usually" men have a helper who then became their sole friend and the rest of the family was seen as the enemy. Be very careful about these "helpers". Many of them are scam artists. I still remember the elderly man who left everything to his guatemalan maid "of six months" about 800k. His family had not been allowed to see him because she thought it was bad idea. Beware!

Posted by: pATRICK | January 8, 2007 11:58 AM

Actually, my family has moved from place to place on the West Coast-- and Colorado also for a few years-- my dad is still a rambling kind of guy and my mom has only lived in the town she is in now for 5 years.

I admit I was hurt when I she said she would never move to the East Coast-- as if living on the East Coast is a terrible thing and I've made a terrible blunder doing so. She doesn't have a faith community, she does have some friends, but I know she'd make lots of friends here. She's retired. I wish I had the ability to not be hurt that she doesn't want to come out here, but I am.

I can't imagine not going to the ends of the earth to be close to my children/ grandchildren. Am I alone for believing this? Now I'm wondering if I love my child more than I should? Does anyone else anticipate spending their years as a grandparent living close to or even with the kids-- regardless of where the kids are and with the plan that you will build new friendships/ faith community where the kids are?

If I'm alone here, is there a psychiatrist you recommend for me? :-}

PS-- my mom has no idea that I am so upset that she can't ever see moving out to the East Coast. I guess I am a bad person for letting it cross my mind that if she loved my child (and myself) more she wouldn't be so adament, but it happened-- and I don't know what to do about it. But I certainly don't want her to know I feel this way-- can't make things better for her to know what a pathetic daughter I am, right?

Posted by: LSE | January 8, 2007 11:59 AM

"What makes the artifacts "rightfully" yours? I never understood the feeling of entitlement that many people have regarding their parents things and money."

You misunderstand. First of all, it isn't about money. I don't want or expect any money from my father's estate. There are sentimental things that come from my childhood, things that were in the house my parents shared when they were still married. I don't think my step-siblings or his 2nd wife should have those specific things b/c they have no emotional attachment to them. I do.

And I just have to say, I think it is irresponsible to not have life ins. Bottomline.

Posted by: SMitch | January 8, 2007 12:00 PM

My husband and I are 28 and already experiencing this - he is an only of older parents and his dad died in '03. His mother does not take care of herself and we don't expect her to be completely independent much longer (5 years on the outside). Meanwhile we are expecting our 1st child any day now. We never ever thought that we would be facing raising infants / toddlers (we plan on more than 1) and caring for a parent as well or at least providing some supervision of care. It is the biggest stressor in our marriage. We see many people in our childbirth / prenatal yoga classes, etc who are MUCH older than us and we wonder if they have any idea what their babies may likely be in for before they are even 30 years old. This problem is only going to get worse as people have children at an older age and our society is more mobile. Luckily our situation is not compounded by financial issues but I have a feeling there will soon be millions out there who are still making student loan payments while chipping in to care for parents. It is really hard to deal with these issues without developing resentment towards family members; I predict if anything ever sends my spouse and I into counseling it will be THIS issue, rather than the balance of work and childcare.

Posted by: guest | January 8, 2007 12:03 PM

Gosh, this is depressing.

During the last 3 years, my husband and I have lost both our mothers as well as his two grandmothers. Because his parents were divorced, he has had the burden of dealing with his mom's estate over the past two years (much younger, non-helpful sibling with his own issues). Her apt is still not sold - but it was finally cleaned out. He is also responsible for his grandma's estate, as his mother was an only child.

So now we have our two dads - mine in Fla (I wouldn't dream of asking him to move) and his in NJ. His dad will be having surgery soon for an aneurism, and is looking into having it done nearby so he can do his rehab here and make it easier for us. What a concept! He has his moments, but I for one appreicate his acknowlegement that his son has a life. (My husband is clergy, and has an odd work schedule.)

I do worry about my dad, even though his health is good. He's 81, and there will come a time when he needs help. Fortunately, he is a pragmatist... put my name on all his bank accounts, etc. But one day he'll need assisted living or help at home and I foresee myself running up and down the East Coast to make it happen. I am NOT looking forward to that.

Posted by: Loren | January 8, 2007 12:03 PM

"Don't you think it's a bit selfish for you to expect your mother to move to where you are?"

Westerner, I don't see that as selfish. As my aunt says, "You have to go where the help is." If a parent hasn't set up their elder years in such a way that an adult child can contribute caregiving without having to make huge sacrifices, then the elderly parent needs to figure out how to get their own help. These people were once functional adults and denial is no excuse. It's not fair to make one's family totally uproot in order to care for someone who hasn't cared for themseleves adequately.

Posted by: Lisane | January 8, 2007 12:03 PM

What a great topic. My DH and I and we are concerned that his parents are not planning adequately for their retirement. His dad is late 60s and retired from govt (good pension) and his mom will have a good pension when she retires, but they don't seem to have any provisions in place to pay for long term care, or any intention of moving into more manageable living quarters when the situation requires it. All we hear is (jokingly at this point) "don't put me in a home". They are spending like mad (get angry at us when we don't let them buy us big-ticket items). We have NO intention of physically taking care of them, but there's no kind way to get that across to them. Ugh.

Posted by: Hope they don't recognize me... | January 8, 2007 12:05 PM

Gosh, this is depressing.

During the last 3 years, my husband and I have lost both our mothers as well as his two grandmothers. Because his parents were divorced, he has had the burden of dealing with his mom's estate over the past two years (much younger, non-helpful sibling with his own issues). Her apt is still not sold - but it was finally cleaned out. He is also responsible for his grandma's estate, as his mother was an only child.

So now we have our two dads - mine in Fla (I wouldn't dream of asking him to move) and his in NJ. His dad will be having surgery soon for an aneurism, and is looking into having it done nearby so he can do his rehab here and make it easier for us. What a concept! He has his moments, but I for one appreicate his acknowlegement that his son has a life. (My husband is clergy, and has an odd work schedule.)

I do worry about my dad, even though his health is good. He's 81, and there will come a time when he needs help. Fortunately, he is a pragmatist... put my name on all his bank accounts, etc. But one day he'll need assisted living or help at home and I foresee myself running up and down the East Coast to make it happen. I am NOT looking forward to that.

Posted by: Loren | January 8, 2007 12:05 PM

Guest, I've thought the same thing about so many of today's "older" first-time parents. Some of the women are 45 years old and have no idea of how healthy they will be at 65 and 70. Granted, 75 now is what 65 used to be, and some people are blessed with good health and mental acuity into their 80s and beyond. We also don't know how medical science will improve our elder years -- and yet, I think there will be many people in their late 20s and early 30s dealing with eldercare just when they are trying to establish their own lives, homes, marriages, and families. Are these older parents thinking this when they push to have their first (and sometimes only) child over 40?

Posted by: Judith | January 8, 2007 12:13 PM

"Does anyone else anticipate spending their years as a grandparent living close to or even with the kids"

Not as a plan. How old are you and your children? Not all all grandparents plan the same future for themselves.

Posted by: EJ | January 8, 2007 12:19 PM

I am an only child and my mother is one of 9 children. Most help as much as possible with the care of their 90-year-old mother, whose greatest desire is to remain in her own home. It is a real strain on the older siblings, the oldest is 75, and they have their own health and mental fitness issues. One is dealing with a husband with Alzheimer's, another has had cancer, others have "problem" children they are supporting, etc.

Although I see that it's good that they all pitch in and help their mother, there have been stressful times dealing with so many caregivers who have different opinions about what will be "best" or most helpful. Truthfully, I am glad that I'm an only child and that I will be able to make all the decisions on my own. It will be difficult, but luckily my mother and I have talked and made some plans and have an idea of what we'll do when she needs more care.

Posted by: Happy Only | January 8, 2007 12:20 PM

I can't imagine not going to the ends of the earth to be close to my children/ grandchildren. Am I alone for believing this? Now I'm wondering if I love my child more than I should.....

You can never love your child to much. You can smother them or hover to much, but never over love them.

I come from a family that couldn't even travel to see me when I almost died. I am going where the kid is as long as they want me around. Then again, I have moved five times in the last 6 years and I think that home is where you make it. I think it would be hard though if you had a couple of kids who all loved in different areas of the country.

Posted by: scarry | January 8, 2007 12:20 PM

I am an only child and my mother is one of 9 children. Most help as much as possible with the care of their 90-year-old mother, whose greatest desire is to remain in her own home. It is a real strain on the older siblings, the oldest is 75, and they have their own health and mental fitness issues. One is dealing with a husband with Alzheimer's, another has had cancer, others have "problem" children they are supporting, etc.

Although I see that it's good that they all pitch in and help their mother, there have been stressful times dealing with so many caregivers who have different opinions about what will be "best" or most helpful. Truthfully, I am glad that I'm an only child and that I will be able to make all the decisions on my own. It will be difficult, but luckily my mother and I have talked and made some plans and have an idea of what we'll do when she needs more care.

Posted by: Ok with being an Only | January 8, 2007 12:21 PM

I think it would be hard though if you had a couple of kids who all loved in different areas of the country

ha, I meant lived!

Posted by: scarry | January 8, 2007 12:23 PM

'I can't imagine not going to the ends of the earth to be close to my children/ grandchildren'

Earlier generations couldn't imagine leaving their hometowns/families for the 'dream job'. Granted many moved away because they lived in depressed areas with no work, but many more looked for what was available in their area regardless of whether it was what they really wanted to do.

Your mother's involvement with you may be less than your involvement with your own children, but was probably completely the norm for her time.

PS -many children were left in cars, or home by themselves, when the mother was grocery shopping. It was seen as completely safe and acceptable at the time.

Posted by: to LSE | January 8, 2007 12:23 PM

John, run it by a good attorney now, see if anything needs to be tightened up. Do you have power of attorney, or does current wife get to make decisions if your father is ill?

Posted by: experienced mom | January 8, 2007 12:23 PM

"Does anyone else anticipate spending their years as a grandparent living close to or even with the kids?"
"Not as a plan. How old are you and your children? Not all all grandparents plan the same future for themselves."

I know several grandparents who willingly planned to move to be near their children and grandchildren. They have been glad to be near and provide a lot of child and teen care. Perhaps it depends on how you think of family or what region of the country you are from and of course, where your children and grandchildren live.

Posted by: Marissa | January 8, 2007 12:25 PM

This is a topic that is utmost in my mind today. I am an only child (there seem to be a lot of us online today!) and I am 35, but my parents are both 75. They live in the DC area and I am grateful they are close by b/c I get to spend time with them on a day to day basis, but I am terrified of the emotional and financial issues looming on the horizon. I have tried to be proactive and ask them certain questions about artificial life support (neither want it), where they want to be buried (thankfully for me, here in Arlington), and I think that the whole estate issue should be pretty straighforward, as they have no real property and don't have anywhere near $1 million in assets, but I am concerned about issues such as power of attorney and other such things that are necessary to make legal, medical and financial decisions for them. Is my only recourse to seek out the assistance of an attorney to find out what is necessary? I am not opposed to such an idea, I guess I just wondered if perhaps there are any other resources out there, maybe online? Has anyone had success finding resources to address these types of questions?

And in response to some earlier posts about moving elderly parents away from where they live in order to "better" care for them, my parents did this with their respective mothers, and it worked great for one grandma, but was a disaster for the other one. I think it helped that the first grandma had my mom plus her sister in the area and all four grandkids who she was really close to. Plus, she knew other retirees in the area, so she did great and was really happy. My other grandma, however, had more health problems, only had my dad for support, and only had the one grandchild in the area, and I think she was lonely. I know she became somewhat bitter at the end and really was not happy with her living situation, so I think you need to think about who their support system is and whether it is worth it to move them. If you move them, you may be closer to them and able to take care of their physical and financial needs better, but critical emotional needs may go unmet. Unfortunately, you just never know; it certainly is not an exact science, and I really feel for people trying to make these decisions right now.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | January 8, 2007 12:28 PM

"I agree that one should have some sort of support network, but I disagree that it must be siblings."

Good point. Having several children won't necessarily mean they all stick around and help each other care for you in your old age. Having several children and discouraging them from earning advanced degrees might help. I know a few people who relocated to do their postdoctorates and ended up staying because jobs in which they can use their educations aren't everywhere. Now, if they could bring themselves to settle for janitorial or secretarial jobs, they could more easily get work near their parents.

"Now she & her husband are dependent on us for $$, and ironically, still tries to guilt me for not staying home with my own child."

That's your cue to go ahead, stay at home with your own child if you wish, stop giving her and her husband $$, and when she complains about the situation tell her that she literally asked for it!

Meanwhile, aren't a lot of these grandfathers and even some of the grandmothers veterans? I know one WWII veteran who's in a nursing home now. His children are well-off, but there was no question of them paying for the nursing home because the Australian military had already decided that he earned that benefit. It's a shame that his American allies don't get the same benefits.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 12:30 PM

How do people feel about parents that move away (i.e. - Florida) when they're healthy, then want to move back close when they're sick so you can take care of them? Makes me sad that my grandparents didn't want to be near my parents & me when my brother & I were growing up, but are more than happy to come back now to have my parents take care of them.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 12:42 PM

The US does have such benefits... if you know a WWII vet who is having trouble paying for their health care, including nursing home payments, they should contact the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Posted by: to 12:30 | January 8, 2007 12:43 PM

Interesting topic. On the subject of inheriting "things," when my dad died, his will was in such a mess that it took years of litigating with his 3rd wife (we basically, as executers, offered her 8 out of 10 dollars, the rest going to the grandkids as my dad had asked - she sued for the total). In the process, I discovered that, for instance, his second wife had all my grandmother's china - nothing I could do about it, but it really hurt me surprisingly! My brother couldn't understand that at all, though my SIL did immediately - wonder if it's a girl thing! Luckily, it all worked out as my dad had intended, but I refused to sign anything, until I got the family photos back. Another good outcome, is that my step-dad and my mom have been very candid about what they want done, and how they are structuring their wills - and my mother had all the girl cousins up to pick out what of the old family things they wanted and to put our names on it. It was a fun day, and we all got to hear the stories, etc. Nothing of particular value, but important to us.

Posted by: RJ | January 8, 2007 12:45 PM

"todcay's (sic) parents are more involved parents than our own parents were/"

LSE,

If that's the generalization you want to hear us refute, and if you're characterizing Gen X parents as "today's parents" and Boomers as "our own parents", then consider it refuted.

If we're going to speak in terms of anecdotal experiences, I haven't noticed Gen X parents, on the whole, being any more involved as parents than Boomer parents. On the other hand, I'd say it's a fair statement that Gen X and Boomer fathers, collectively, are more involved with their children than their fathers were.

Although I'd like to think your post makes you sound more self-absorped than you truly are, like some other posters I'm more than a bit puzzled about your judgmental attitude toward your mother's unwillingness to move. You selected a spouse. That spouse has a job/career tied to D.C. You and your spouse are free to relocate, to change careers, and to otherwise make all choices that are in the best interest of your son. The fact that your mom, who since you characterize her as a boomer, is between 45 and 65, chooses to live out her years in a certain community where she's developed ties shows, IMHO, that she has a healthy sense of independence from her child - you.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 8, 2007 12:45 PM

There is a whole range of job and career opportunities between janitorial/secretarial and those requiring postdoctorate degrees.

Just sounds like more intellectual 'elite' snobbery.

Posted by: to 12:30 | January 8, 2007 12:45 PM

Why should grandparents move closer to their grandchildren? Can the grandkids not visit the grandparents during the summer or something? Maybe the grandparents don't want to move close because they don't want to be used as babysitters.
When I was growing up I lived thousands of miles from both sets of grandparents (my family was in Germany, the grandparents were in Tennessee and Pennsylvania)so we only got to see them when they came for a visit or when we went back to the US (which wasn't often). But we still talked to them on the phone and loved them just as much. I think the distance has made my bond with my grandparents stronger because I appriciate them more. Both sets of my cousins live close to the grandparents and they treat my grandparents like garbage. I'm not saying distance has anything to do with it, but still...give the grandparents a break.

Posted by: Melissa | January 8, 2007 12:48 PM

Those of you whom plan to live with your children in your golden years might want to mention it to your kid's prospective mates.....

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 12:48 PM

I read somewhere that the elderly do better when they have lots of friends around from their own age group... this affected their attitude and health more positively than having their children and grandchildren around. I think the article said it was because they could relate more to their friends and empathize with each other better. Might be something to think about before you ask your parents to move closer to you, particularly if they have a close-knit group of friends/support system where they are.

Posted by: notyetamom | January 8, 2007 12:49 PM

I have a number of younger colleagues in their early to mid-thirties who have put off having kids not because they don't want them or have not found a husband/wife/parrtner but because they are paying off tremendous student loans and are really scared about the additional financial responsibility of children. They think they cannot afford kids, it breaks my heart. Also older parents are nothing new, think about your ancestors, some of those women were having 8, 10 & more kids and the later kids all came along in their mid 30s to early 40s. I don't think people who desire children should give up on having them because they are 40... But, I do agree that people who have kids much later are not doing the child to be any favors.

Posted by: On Older Parents | January 8, 2007 12:50 PM

I don't have a lot of time today and this may be redunant. But I don't think multiple siblings help all that much. Because it seems like the care generally falls on the child closet to parents geographically or emotionally. As far as fairness, we did this. My mom moved into the house next door to my one brother. Now she owns the house and the property. Granted middle brother does the majority of the care. When mom passes on, middle brother will inherit the house and the land. The three of us will split, evenly, the remaining assets. I think that was as fair as we could make it. My mother was welcome to move next to or in the same town as me or my other brother. She doesn't want to. She wants to stay up north. So it wasn't like the offer was not made. Sometimes the middle brother feels put upon but then again, he is getting the largest piece of the inheritance. Well worth the trade off to me. It is definitely every one loves raymond at his house.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 8, 2007 12:51 PM

"And I just have to say, I think it is irresponsible to not have life ins. Bottomline."

Most insurance salespersons will tell you that the purpose of life insurance is to provide for those spouses and children who are dependent upon your lost income.

I hope that by age 23 you are no longer a dependent child, especially since you seem so proud of how responsible you are being.

Posted by: to SMitch | January 8, 2007 12:53 PM

I was fortunate to be born into a healthy family. Until I was 38 I had three grandparents. Now at 41, my remaining grandparent, aged 95 has moved in with my parents, in good health in their late sixties. I have two young children (5 and 8), and a sister.

When my grandmother was living by herself, assisted by certified nursing assistants, she lived about 30 minutes from one of her children, and about 4 hours from the other two (including my mother). Two siblings, my aunt and my mother, shared the care. Both had power of attorney. One wrote most of the checks (my grandmother signed), the other balanced the checkbook. When my grandmother (and my grandfather before he died) needed help, my aunt was the first on hand. My mother retired when two things happened simultaneously. While I was in China adopting my first daughter, my grandfather fell and it became obvious that, at 91, he was beginning a steep decline in health, which ultimately led to his death at 95. After my mother retired, she was able to spend time as needed with my grandparents. Communication with her sister was the key factor that made this work. Also of course the ability to retire at age 60.

In my fathers family, my grandmother lived alone for 20 years after my grandfather died. My father and his only sibling lived very far away from where my grandmother lived. My uncle, a pediatrician, was not able to drop everything at a moment's notice to come help out. My father has always had the leeway to do this. So when my grandmother needed help, my dad flew down immediately, and my uncle assisted by phone. As a physician, you can imagine that this was a tremendous help in communicating with doctors during hospital stays. Again, communication and the ability to leave work as needed were key factors.

In both cases, the siblings have generally been in agreement about appropriate courses of action. Communication has aided in coming to agreement.

I hope that my children will be more independent before my own parents become more needy (and that is likely). I have already taken out a long term care policy for myself. My mother has one also, but my father has some medical issues that preclude him from getting it (he should have taken out a policy when he was in his 40s, but didn't). So hopefully we have things as well in hand as we can at this time.

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 8, 2007 12:55 PM

Most insurance salespersons will tell you that the purpose of life insurance is to provide for those spouses and children who are dependent upon your lost income.

I hope that by age 23 you are no longer a dependent child, especially since you seem so proud of how responsible you are being

Duh, who is going to pay for the funeral? Re-read what this person wrote you totally missed their point.

Posted by: to to Smitch | January 8, 2007 12:57 PM

Thanks for the additional feedback. I don't want to clutter the site iwth my personal details but I am 32 and my mom is 67 and still fairly healthy-- my child is 4.

Getting away from my situation, may I make the generalization that some people WANT the sandwich-- I would love to have more family together and caring for one another. I really was looking forweard to a day whn my parents came to live with us, but my mom said "I couldn't ever leave the West Coast-- it is so beautiful here!" Again, I guess I'm a bad person for feeling like my mom loves a geographic area more than she loves me and my child, but it is what crossed my mind. I just can't imagine ever saying something like that to my child. But I guess I just have be comfortable with my dream of what I hope my life would be as a grandparent and recognize my mom doesn't have the same dream. If anyone wonders why I'm going on about my mom and not my dad-- I'm just closer to her and always have been. Those Boomer dads were so much more distant than Gen X dads-- KIDDING!

Posted by: LSE | January 8, 2007 1:01 PM

I have chosen to not have long term care insurance. Considering the cost of the insurance while saving for retirement as well as impending college for two highschoolers as well as the likelihood of needing the insurance, I am taking my chances. The health history of my family includes very short term illnesses leading to death and only one relative who spent time in nursing home prior to death. My short term needs are taking precedence over possible future nursing home care. When the kids are out of college or I get a huge increase in pay, I will reassess having a long term care policy.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:02 PM

I know this is kind of gross but estate planners actually tell people to plan their own funeral. So there are no surprises and make sure the money is there when the time comes. You can even prepay for a funeral or cremation. I think it is a good idea. I heard that life insurance is also good to pay for the cost of any taxes that may incur with the estate. But as we discussed previously most estates are not taxed. As far as grandparents living close to the grand kids. I don't think you owe it to your grand kids to live near them. Also middle brother also got the most help, meaning any help, with baby sitting too. Because we do not live close to my mother, we got zero help in this area. And my mother sat for my niece for free for years. They have never paid a babysitter.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 8, 2007 1:04 PM

I think this is a very tough issue for everyone - kids or no.

I'm 34, and my husband and I live 1 hour from my beginning elderly parents (aged 77 and 79 respectively). In the last 5 years their health has deteriorated quite a bit, with arthritis making my mother's ability to get around very restricted. Additionally my father fell 2 years ago and broke his ankle - all but rendering him unable to get around - and is only now on his way to recovery. My brother (married with 1 young child) lives 6 hours away. Needless to say, my husband and I are the "caregivers" as such. Consisting of going to their home once a week (or couple of weeks), fixing things that need to be fixed, getting things done, etc.. The first year my father was injured we helped with shoveling, etc... but this year they hired a company! (Yay!). I am happy that right now they are well enough to maintain their own health (such as it is) by cooking/light cleaning.. but know that when it comes to it - if necessary my husband and I would move in with them to care for them.

I will add to that, they have helped my husband and I out financially, and additionally - I was tremendously ill as a child and it was their attention and care that allowed me to survive..

My parents were always "involved" and child-centric, but not over involved - as in once I was healthy and "left the nest" they trusted me to be okay without them. It is me now who initiates the daily phone calls (to be sure they're okay) and no - I couldn't conceive of moving them from their home of 50 years to make it easier to care for them. But that's me. Every family has its own dynamic and own needs.

But honestly, I feel that they put their life on hold for 20 years to raise me, feed me, care for me, heal me and get me an education.... so if in return I need to put my life on hold for 20 years (yes - they will be my "good years" from 30-50) to make sure that they are happy and well when they are at their most vulnerable.. then I will. No questions. My husband is aware of this. I am also the main breadwinner in our family, so my decision about where to live (near enough to them to help in an emergency) is easy enough to make.

Good luck to all in this situation..

and I loved having my parents as they were - "older" when older wasn't fashionable. In 1972, Mom had me at age 43. They were wise, and fun, and "normal" to me. If it is my misfortune to lose them while I am still relatively young (30's or 40's)... well at least I had really wonderful parents I can remember with joy.

Posted by: Michigan | January 8, 2007 1:07 PM

"I know this is kind of gross but estate planners actually tell people to plan their own funeral."

A condition of my grandmother's entry into her nursing home was that her funeral be preplanned and paid for. It was the best thing my parents could have done; when Grandma died about a year later, the only thing we had to do was drop by the funeral home with the clothes she was to be buried in and to choose the Mass cards.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 8, 2007 1:09 PM

"Also older parents are nothing new, think about your ancestors, some of those women were having 8, 10 & more kids and the later kids all came along in their mid 30s to early 40s."

But the number of first-time parents who are both in their early or mid 40s IS a new thing. Yes, my grandma had children beginning when she was 17 and ending when she was 44. But she had 11 children. That means the youngest child has 10 older siblings who can also help their elderly parents.

I recently learned that this youngest child commented, during an argument over caregiving, "Yes, mom is an old woman now, but she has been an old woman all my life!"

Posted by: Ellen T. | January 8, 2007 1:10 PM

"Yes, mom is an old woman now, but she has been an old woman all my life!"


I can see my younger daughter saying that. I will be 38 when our adoption is completed.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 8, 2007 1:14 PM

LSE

Your child is now 4; you may change your mind in the future. The teen years might put a strain on your relationship that may never recover. Your DIL/SIL may not want to live with you. You may not like the weather wear your child lives, etc. It's usually not a wise plan to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:15 PM

LSE - maybe she doesn't like your husband and has been able to keep that hidden from you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:17 PM

I'm in agreement with those who have said additional siblings may or may not make a difference in the amount of the burden that falls on one sibling. My sister lives down the street from my parents. Our parents pushed three out of four children away from the area, explicitly and directly (as in, "we don't think it's a good idea for you to come back to X town after graduation from college because your mother and I are only now beginning to get along" -- I jest not) except my oldest sister -- long the only child who met their expectations for perfection. I am very close to my sister, particularly because it is not at all her fault that my parents chose to create an unhealthy family dynamic. Now that my parents are in their '80s, the burden on my sister is high and there is little my brothers or I can do to take that burden from her except visit and meet financial needs as they arise. She knows her siblings would like to assist but that our parents truly are the barriers to any meaningful assistance, e.g., they won't permit home health care providers, won't work with a geriatric consultant (on a free basis), won't tell their own physicians about non-regulated supplements they take, etc. You can only do what you can do.

To the anon poster who read snobbery into someone's comment about janitorial and secretarial positions, you may be right in your read of the initial post. On the other hand, some of us come from smaller towns where the career options are quite limited. You're correct that those options encompass more than janitorial and secretarial positions -- not that there's anything wrong with those, as they say -- but not everyone wants to, or has the skill set to, sell real estate or work at one of the two local banks. If you were raised in a thriving and economically diverse area, you may not really understand the dearth of opportunities in those sorts of towns.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:18 PM

Brava, Michigan! Although not everyone can feel the way you to about their parents, it's good to hear from someone who does. You apparently had the luck of the right mix. I am in a similar situation. It's just my mom and me now (and my husband). My mother wants to stay in her home, and currently she and her siblings are caring for her elderly mother who lives 30 mins. away. We talk about eldercare issues a lot and mom has made some decisions that will make things easier. Still, I expect that I will NOT "put my life on hold" but I WILL change my life and adapt to moving nearer to her when the need arises.

I've gone from dreading this when I was in my early 30s to total acceptance of it as another phase of my life. My husband understands this will be our plan and is in agreement. Things change as we ourselves age. I would never have wanted to leave DC 10 years ago. Now I see that I might be glad to have the slower pace and different lifestyle of my hometown.

The one thing I do hope my mother will do is agree to buy a small one-level home and renovate it appropriately with walk-in shower and other things that can make her life easier. Sometimes people don't want to change, and then when they do they wonder why it took so long. I hope I can remain flexible and adaptable as I get older.

Posted by: JL | January 8, 2007 1:20 PM

This board cracks me up. Everyone and everything is a hassle - especially the people that you are supposed to love. I've never seen a more self absorbed group in my life. "Its so hard to find someone to care for my children that I chose to have so I can do the work that makes me a happeier better mother. Its so hard to take care of my sick parents because my busy schedule won't accomodate their dying." Boo hoo - shouldn't the government do something. This represents all that is wrong with american society. The almighty dollar is more important than family. All I have to say is that you will reap what you sow.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:20 PM

The almightly dollar is what da#$ well pays for the care that these old people need in their golden years you fool.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:24 PM

One has to wonder what would happen if self-important rich folks were forced to stop giving names to ridiculous concepts like the "sandwich generation." Get over yourselves.

Posted by: Double 0 Zero | January 8, 2007 1:24 PM

Anon at 1:18 is totally right about small town employment. There are often few opportunities there and that's what makes "going back home" to those areas to care for elderly parents who insist on staying there so daunting and dreadful. My parents pushed me out of my hometown and urged me toward a major and a career that I can't work in in their little town. I've ended up enjoying my work very much and the lifestyle of the city. So what am I supposed to do, move back there and open a sandwich shop or something?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:25 PM

"Everything is a hassle" anon poster clearly hasn't even been reading today's posts. Few express that thought.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:27 PM

Yes, yes-- good points all! It's easy at this point to think I would sacrifice anything to be close to my child (and PS, in my little fantasy I only live in the same house as future grandchild/ren IF both parents genuinely want that-- otherwise, it would just be the same town). I guess it's possible mom doesn't like my husband but I REALLY doubt it-- he is marvelous! Only flaw is that he can't relocate.

Posted by: LSE | January 8, 2007 1:29 PM

I faced being "sandwiched" between my elderly, sick mother and two small children back in 2000, when most people my age (I was 36 at the time) could not even imagine such a thing. This is because I was born in 1964 to a mom who was 42 and a dad who was 45 -- highly unusual at that time, which is why I faced the sandwich phenomenon about 10-15 years earlier that most of my cohorts. The rising generations, however; will be facing being sandwiched at earlier ages just as I was, due to people having babies at older ages. My mother became very ill at age 78 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. My husband was deployed overseas with the military when she became ill and had to have emergency surgery. There I was with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old and having to ferry my once very independent mother around (she became totally dependent on me in a matter of weeks, from having seemed to be fine) to a daily litany of medical appointments, lab appointments, etc. It became apparent that I was going to need some help and fast -- one person cannot tend to the needs of small children, work, and cart around the elderly all at once. The military granted my husband emergency leave to come home (let him finish his tour locally), and my own employer has an Emergency Leave Bank, which was an absolute lifesaver. I was able to have leave forwarded to my account while I was at home taking care of my mother, and was still receiving a paycheck. If I had not had this benefit at work, I would have had to take leave without pay (or even quit), and due to the high expenses of my mother's care, may have ended up greatly in debt. Medicare only provides follow-up, in-home care for about a month to six weeks after a hospital stay. Then you're on your own. My mother had a tracheostomy and a catheter for chemotherapy, both of which required constant cleaning and disinfecting - considered skilled nursing care -- which the hospital trained ME to do. I still have nightmares about it. Luckily, my husband is extremely helpful and ended up taking over most of our childrearing, housecleaning, laundering, and cooking; because taking care of a sick, non-ambulatory elderly person is a 24-7 job. My mother did have some long-term care insurance that could be used for in-home care or out-of-home, and we were just in the process of getting ready to hire someone to come in to help her so I could go back to work (after about a year off), when she passed away. Even with the longterm care insurance, we couldn't afford to hire someone to do skilled nursing care (astronomically expensive!!), so I did it until we got her care requirements down to "assited living." Lucky for most people, they don't have to deal with the host of medical ailments that I had to; but even so, the constant requirements of taking care of the elderly can really wear on you, and the stress is magnified if you have small children as well. Respite care is an absolute MUST, or you will go insane. I suffered from major depression due to this whole thing, and finally had to break down and ask for help. Most people don't offer to help people in this situation, because they have no earthly idea just how stressful and draining it is. And for those of you who became parents at an older age -- the best gift you can ever give your children is to purchase long-term care insurance while you're young, because if you don't, they will someday inevitably be "sandwiched" by you and their own small children and will experience a great deal of stress. I am glad that I was there and able to help my mother (my dad was already deceased from a sudden death), but I would not want my children to be in the same position, especially if they aren't lucky enough to have the great employer benefits and spousal help that I did.

Posted by: SandwichLady | January 8, 2007 1:31 PM

LSE - when my daughter was 4, I hated the thought that she would grow up and leave me. Now that she is 16, she can't leave soon enough for me :).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:32 PM

I faced being "sandwiched" between my elderly, sick mother and two small children back in 2000, when most people my age (I was 36 at the time) could not even imagine such a thing. This is because I was born in 1964 to a mom who was 42 and a dad who was 45 -- highly unusual at that time, which is why I faced the sandwich phenomenon about 10-15 years earlier that most of my cohorts. The rising generations, however; will be facing being sandwiched at earlier ages just as I was, due to people having babies at older ages. My mother became very ill at age 78 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. My husband was deployed overseas with the military when she became ill and had to have emergency surgery. There I was with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old and having to ferry my once very independent mother around (she became totally dependent on me in a matter of weeks, from having seemed to be fine) to a daily litany of medical appointments, lab appointments, etc. It became apparent that I was going to need some help and fast -- one person cannot tend to the needs of small children, work, and cart around the elderly all at once. The military granted my husband emergency leave to come home (let him finish his tour locally), and my own employer has an Emergency Leave Bank, which was an absolute lifesaver. I was able to have leave forwarded to my account while I was at home taking care of my mother, and was still receiving a paycheck. If I had not had this benefit at work, I would have had to take leave without pay (or even quit), and due to the high expenses of my mother's care, may have ended up greatly in debt. Medicare only provides follow-up, in-home care for about a month to six weeks after a hospital stay. Then you're on your own. My mother had a tracheostomy and a catheter for chemotherapy, both of which required constant cleaning and disinfecting - considered skilled nursing care -- which the hospital trained ME to do. I still have nightmares about it. Luckily, my husband is extremely helpful and ended up taking over most of our childrearing, housecleaning, laundering, and cooking; because taking care of a sick, non-ambulatory elderly person is a 24-7 job. My mother did have some long-term care insurance that could be used for in-home care or out-of-home, and we were just in the process of getting ready to hire someone to come in to help her so I could go back to work (after about a year off), when she passed away. Even with the longterm care insurance, we couldn't afford to hire someone to do skilled nursing care (astronomically expensive!!), so I did it until we got her care requirements down to "assited living." Lucky for most people, they don't have to deal with the host of medical ailments that I had to; but even so, the constant requirements of taking care of the elderly can really wear on you, and the stress is magnified if you have small children as well. Respite care is an absolute MUST, or you will go insane. I suffered from major depression due to this whole thing, and finally had to break down and ask for help. Most people don't offer to help people in this situation, because they have no earthly idea just how stressful and draining it is. And for those of you who became parents at an older age -- the best gift you can ever give your children is to purchase long-term care insurance while you're young, because if you don't, they will someday inevitably be "sandwiched" by you and their own small children and will experience a great deal of stress. I am glad that I was there and able to help my mother (my dad was already deceased from a sudden death), but I would not want my children to be in the same position, especially if they aren't lucky enough to have the great employer benefits and spousal help that I did.

Posted by: SandwichLady | January 8, 2007 1:33 PM

I faced being "sandwiched" between my elderly, sick mother and two small children back in 2000, when most people my age (I was 36 at the time) could not even imagine such a thing. This is because I was born in 1964 to a mom who was 42 and a dad who was 45 -- highly unusual at that time, which is why I faced the sandwich phenomenon about 10-15 years earlier that most of my cohorts. The rising generations, however; will be facing being sandwiched at earlier ages just as I was, due to people having babies at older ages. My mother became very ill at age 78 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. My husband was deployed overseas with the military when she became ill and had to have emergency surgery. There I was with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old and having to ferry my once very independent mother around (she became totally dependent on me in a matter of weeks, from having seemed to be fine) to a daily litany of medical appointments, lab appointments, etc. It became apparent that I was going to need some help and fast -- one person cannot tend to the needs of small children, work, and cart around the elderly all at once. The military granted my husband emergency leave to come home (let him finish his tour locally), and my own employer has an Emergency Leave Bank, which was an absolute lifesaver. I was able to have leave forwarded to my account while I was at home taking care of my mother, and was still receiving a paycheck. If I had not had this benefit at work, I would have had to take leave without pay (or even quit), and due to the high expenses of my mother's care, may have ended up greatly in debt. Medicare only provides follow-up, in-home care for about a month to six weeks after a hospital stay. Then you're on your own. My mother had a tracheostomy and a catheter for chemotherapy, both of which required constant cleaning and disinfecting - considered skilled nursing care -- which the hospital trained ME to do. I still have nightmares about it. Luckily, my husband is extremely helpful and ended up taking over most of our childrearing, housecleaning, laundering, and cooking; because taking care of a sick, non-ambulatory elderly person is a 24-7 job. My mother did have some long-term care insurance that could be used for in-home care or out-of-home, and we were just in the process of getting ready to hire someone to come in to help her so I could go back to work (after about a year off), when she passed away. Even with the longterm care insurance, we couldn't afford to hire someone to do skilled nursing care (astronomically expensive!!), so I did it until we got her care requirements down to "assited living." Lucky for most people, they don't have to deal with the host of medical ailments that I had to; but even so, the constant requirements of taking care of the elderly can really wear on you, and the stress is magnified if you have small children as well. Respite care is an absolute MUST, or you will go insane. I suffered from major depression due to this whole thing, and finally had to break down and ask for help. Most people don't offer to help people in this situation, because they have no earthly idea just how stressful and draining it is. And for those of you who became parents at an older age -- the best gift you can ever give your children is to purchase long-term care insurance while you're young, because if you don't, they will someday inevitably be "sandwiched" by you and their own small children and will experience a great deal of stress. I am glad that I was there and able to help my mother (my dad was already deceased from a sudden death), but I would not want my children to be in the same position, especially if they aren't lucky enough to have the great employer benefits and spousal help that I did.

Posted by: SandwichLady | January 8, 2007 1:33 PM

I faced being "sandwiched" between my elderly, sick mother and two small children back in 2000, when most people my age (I was 36 at the time) could not even imagine such a thing. This is because I was born in 1964 to a mom who was 42 and a dad who was 45 -- highly unusual at that time, which is why I faced the sandwich phenomenon about 10-15 years earlier that most of my cohorts. The rising generations, however; will be facing being sandwiched at earlier ages just as I was, due to people having babies at older ages. My mother became very ill at age 78 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. My husband was deployed overseas with the military when she became ill and had to have emergency surgery. There I was with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old and having to ferry my once very independent mother around (she became totally dependent on me in a matter of weeks, from having seemed to be fine) to a daily litany of medical appointments, lab appointments, etc. It became apparent that I was going to need some help and fast -- one person cannot tend to the needs of small children, work, and cart around the elderly all at once. The military granted my husband emergency leave to come home (let him finish his tour locally), and my own employer has an Emergency Leave Bank, which was an absolute lifesaver. I was able to have leave forwarded to my account while I was at home taking care of my mother, and was still receiving a paycheck. If I had not had this benefit at work, I would have had to take leave without pay (or even quit), and due to the high expenses of my mother's care, may have ended up greatly in debt. Medicare only provides follow-up, in-home care for about a month to six weeks after a hospital stay. Then you're on your own. My mother had a tracheostomy and a catheter for chemotherapy, both of which required constant cleaning and disinfecting - considered skilled nursing care -- which the hospital trained ME to do. I still have nightmares about it. Luckily, my husband is extremely helpful and ended up taking over most of our childrearing, housecleaning, laundering, and cooking; because taking care of a sick, non-ambulatory elderly person is a 24-7 job. My mother did have some long-term care insurance that could be used for in-home care or out-of-home, and we were just in the process of getting ready to hire someone to come in to help her so I could go back to work (after about a year off), when she passed away. Even with the longterm care insurance, we couldn't afford to hire someone to do skilled nursing care (astronomically expensive!!), so I did it until we got her care requirements down to "assited living." Lucky for most people, they don't have to deal with the host of medical ailments that I had to; but even so, the constant requirements of taking care of the elderly can really wear on you, and the stress is magnified if you have small children as well. Respite care is an absolute MUST, or you will go insane. I suffered from major depression due to this whole thing, and finally had to break down and ask for help. Most people don't offer to help people in this situation, because they have no earthly idea just how stressful and draining it is. And for those of you who became parents at an older age -- the best gift you can ever give your children is to purchase long-term care insurance while you're young, because if you don't, they will someday inevitably be "sandwiched" by you and their own small children and will experience a great deal of stress. I am glad that I was there and able to help my mother (my dad was already deceased from a sudden death), but I would not want my children to be in the same position, especially if they aren't lucky enough to have the great employer benefits and spousal help that I did.

Posted by: SandwichLady | January 8, 2007 1:34 PM

Notyetamom - it is true that it's better for older people to be around friends and familiar surroundings. Everyone has some memory loss and familiar surroundings help with that.

The problem is that people hang on too long in their homes. By the time they can't manage there anymore and move to places with more care they've gotten so infirmed that building new relationships is very hard. Plus all the other people in these places are as dotty as they are.

The smart thing to do is to settle into a community with 'retreat rights' when you are in your late 60s/early 70s. Then you've still got your health and marbles and can age-in place with backup for failing health.

What tends to happen is that people in those years feel good and put off moving. So they get into their late 70s/80s, have a crisis and their children are forced to do something about them. At that point their social network is difficult to reestablish.

Posted by: RoseG | January 8, 2007 1:34 PM

I am not "sandwiched" yet -- my parents are both gone and my husband's parents are still quite able to care for themselves.

My mother, however, had to balance raising three young children and supporting her elderly and infirm mother who also refused to leave her home in Missouri except during the winter, which she preferred to spend in Florida. We lived near Chicago. My mother and her six siblings developed an arrangement. The three siblings who lived in Missouri took turns helping Grandma out around her house, taking her shopping, etc. During the winter the two siblings who lived in Florida split hosting Grandma in their homes. The two remaining siblings took Grandma for one week per year to provide respite for the others, and also split between them those expenses not covered by Grandma's own sources of income (social security and a survivor's pension.)

This arrangement worked very well for 25 years until Alzheimers forced Grandma into a nursing facility.

Posted by: MP | January 8, 2007 1:37 PM

Almost two years ago my dad was to have a "routine" cardiac catheterization. He lived in CT and I am here in MD. Sister in TX and brother in ME. Parents divorced. I told him I would come home, take him to the hospital for the test, bring him home and stay with him for a few days so he could get back on his feet.
My sister just had a feeling and insisted on coming.
Who knew that when we left his house at 5:30 am that he would never see the inside of his house again. No preparations were made - he didn't even have a will completed or medical power of attorney.
He had a cardiac arrest in the beginning of the procedure. They were able to rescussitate him but he went directly from the hospital to a "rehab" nursing home in CT. It was terrible to have to leave him there after two weeks. I think we cried almost all the way back here.
He didn't do well with the rehab as he was already ill and after each of us going to CT and staying for a couple of weeks at a time we finally convinced him to move to a rehab facility here in MD. The cost of an ambulance here was $3000 but we all felt that it was important for him to be near at least one of his kids.
He only lived here one month before he passed away but I am so very grateful that I was able to see him almost every day for that month.
One resource that is very helpful is a company called "A Place for Mom". They assist with finding nursing homes, rehab facilities and were a huge help with my dad.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 8, 2007 1:38 PM

"One has to wonder what would happen if self-important rich folks were forced to stop giving names to ridiculous concepts like the "sandwich generation." Get over yourselves.

Double 0 Zero, I am trying to determine what it is about this issue that strikes you as an issue only relevant to self-important rich folks. I don't know how old you are, but this is an issue for many of my friends and acquaintances, several of whom have very limited means. Is there something you were pi$$ed off about before you started reading today?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:41 PM

"their children are forced to do something about them."

It is sad that children caring for aging parents feel forced to do it... you should be happy to take care of your parents, afterall, they took care of you for 18+ years. I think we are the only culture in the world that sees the elderly generation as a burden and not a treasure full of wisdom and experience that deserves respect after raising a family and contributing to society for 60, 70, 80 years. We are so self-absorbed.

Posted by: Forced?? | January 8, 2007 1:42 PM

My husband and I aren't even sandwiched yet, but this month we are putting our home up for sale to move to Seattle so that we can take care of his dying mother and sick grandmother (who actually raised him). I've never met his mother, so this is scaring me a lot. Plus we'd like to start having children later this year, which will just add on to our familial responsibilities. The only good thing is that my husband is adament that he will not have his relatives live with us. On the other hand, my dad's mother lives with my parents so they can take care of her, but at least that didn't happen until their children were out of the house.

Posted by: Newlywed | January 8, 2007 1:52 PM

I don't think it is self-absorption to worry about how you are going to take care of your parents. It is a very different proposition taking care of an elderly person than it is for a normal young child - for one thing, you may be in a position of having to make decisions where the legal ground can be murky (ie a parent who has senile dementia, but can't see that they have it) - my mother did everything to try to get her mother to live with us when she became incapacitated - including hiring a full-time sitter to stay with her when she couldn't (my gm had set her own apartment on fire, when she forgot about the stove). My GM was very angry "that she was being treated like a child" yet she was a danger to herself. So, while there is, I think, this lovely myth that other countries aren't like "selfish, money-grubbing Americans" and everyone is one big happy family, and everyone watches out for each generation - I bet the reality is not that rosey. All families have their problems.

Posted by: RJ | January 8, 2007 1:54 PM

>>>The US does have such benefits... if you know a WWII vet who is having trouble paying for their health care, including nursing home payments, they should contact the Department of Veteran's Affairs.<<

yeah this is a big help, after my mother died, my dad had all kinds of issues and contacted the dept of veterans affairs for help. He called, he wrote, we emailed on his behalf. We started that correspondences in Dec. 2003. He died March 2004. LAST WEEK, yes, Jan 2007, a letter came to him, at my sister's home, telling him where else to write for info. Extremely helpful! We're still paying the bills on hospitalization etc he incurred.

Posted by: Ritamae | January 8, 2007 1:57 PM

To anon 1:32-- Thanks! That is the kind of perspective I was looking for from this board.

Posted by: LSE | January 8, 2007 2:03 PM

Three old ladies are sitting in a diner, chatting about various things. One lady says, "You know, I'm getting really forgetful. This morning, I was standing at the top of the stairs, and I couldn't remember whether I had just come up or was about to go down."
The second lady says, "You think that's bad? The other day, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, and I couldn't remember whether I was going to bed or had just woken up!"
The third lady smiles smugly. "Well, my memory's just as good as it's always been, knock wood." She raps the table. With a startled look on her face, she asks, "Who's there?"

Posted by: Geriatric Jokes | January 8, 2007 2:08 PM

I am grown and have no children, but my mother is facing taking care of her parents, both of whom have serious medical conditions. The problem is that they live 250 miles away. They refuse to move closer. They refuse to move into an assisted living facility where they are. They refuse to get in-home health. They refuse to accept the fact that my mother can't be at their beck and call, as she must work. Meanwhile, my poor mother is driving back and forth on the weekends and has been forced to take FMLA time just to make it work.

To those posters who imply that people aren't happy enough about having to care for their ailing parents, you should consider the fact that the parents are often uncooperative and make matters worse by being stubborn for no good reason. My grandparents would have a better quality of life living near my mother, where she can and would care for them -- happily in fact. They would no doubt live longer in a better environment where they aren't on their own and suffering constant falls and injuries. But when they fail to participate in a care plan that makes sense, what is a child to do?

Posted by: adultonly | January 8, 2007 2:13 PM

Newlywed,

How is it that your husband cares enough about his mother and grandmother to relocate, but not enough to introduce you to each other prior to your marriage? It also doesn't sound as if you are discussing these issues together and arriving at a joint family decision. Instead your comments sound as though he's making the decisions and you're crossing your fingers that they turn out as you hope. I'm not intending to be snarky, and I do understand that his grandmother raised him, but help us to understand the family dynamic here.

Posted by: to Newlywed | January 8, 2007 2:16 PM

The outcome of caring for your child for 18+ years is usually an independent adult. The outcome of caring for your elderly parents for 18+ years (yes, for some the decline lasts that long) is death. They are simply not the same. Yes, parents sacrifice for their children and children owe their parents care and consideration to make their elder years easier. That said, every elderly person was once a young person who had the opportunit to make choices about their elder years. Those who go into denial, refuse to consider sensible options, won't discuss financial matters, etc. cannot expect unflagging devotion from the children they, yes, "force" to deal with the difficult situation of trying to make their final years bearable.

Posted by: ATT | January 8, 2007 2:27 PM

adultonly, hear, hear!

My MIL sold her car and gave up her drivers licence around age 75 or so when she began to mistrust her driving skills. Around age 80, she began living with a rotating group of adult kids (all of whom fight over/compete for who gets to have her) rather than staying at her own home overnight, so that, in the event that something goes wrong, there's always someone around to take care of her. Her kids wouldn't have it any other way. She's not my favorite person, but she's handled aging more gracefully than anyone I've ever met. Yes, she is blessed with eight kids who love her dearly, but perhaps her mature response to aging is one more reason why they love her so much.

My parents, on the other hand, are uncooperative and not truthful even to their own physicians, let alone to any of their adult kids about the occurrence of health events, including falls, or symptoms. We love them, but we can't help them as long as they are delusional, hope to painlessly die in their sleep, and fail to plan for the future. They won't move in with any of us. They won't accept home health care, and they won't move into an attractive assisted living facility because they see either move as the beginning of a slippery slide toward death. I see birth as a slippery slide toward death, so you can imagine how much sympathy I have with this sort of failure to accept reality in the form of making good decisions while one has one's wits about them. The irony is that they "don't want to be a burden on anyone". Yeah, right.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 8, 2007 2:27 PM

to forced - age doesn't automatically confer wisdom. there are plenty of dysfunctional elderly out there. the wisdom fairy does not visit when you turn 65 & plunk you on the head with a magic wand.

Posted by: quark | January 8, 2007 2:33 PM

While my father did alot of good financial planning and had great insurance my mother on the other hand is the Queen of denial. She currently lives in a condo owned by my sister (she paid for part of it). She pays my sister "rent" which doesn't even cover the condo fees. She is unable to keep it clean thru a combination of laziness and arthritis. She does drive and cook for herself.
She has blown every penny she has ever had. She has no plan for a future when she can't live alone. She is also a drama queen (her modem wouldn't work and it was the end of the world - ruined her weekend) and a very unhappy person. The sad part is that my dad was a wonderful person who was grateful for everything we did for him. Any of us would have gladly had him stay with us if he had been able.
My mother stayed with my sister for about three weeks and created a huge problem in the house. My sister states that ma will never live with her - that she would be divorced if she did. I have three levels in my house and don't think she could tolerate that even if I could.
We are not sure what is going to happen to ma and it is scary.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 8, 2007 2:36 PM

To the person who wrote in about trying to get VA benefits for their father and waited four years for a response, I say that is just terrible. If you had a claim pending at the time of your father's death, his widow/estate may still be eligible for benefits. I work for a branch of VA and I encourage everyone who is a veteran or who has a veteran parent to explore what benefits are available to them. I am sorry you had such a bad experience with VA. I know the agency can be really bad sometimes, but please take heart in knowing that some of us who work for VA take pride in what we do and really want to help veterans and their families.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | January 8, 2007 2:44 PM

"I think we are the only culture in the world that sees the elderly generation as a burden and not a treasure full of wisdom and experience that deserves respect after raising a family and contributing to society for 60, 70, 80 years. We are so self-absorbed."

Forced, I welcome the comment of someone who can better inform this discussion with respect to the practice of caring for their elderly in cultures who treasure the elderly. As I understand it, however, the quid pro quo is that one's elderly parents understand that they will move in with their children when the parents become old but before the parents are incapacitated. The adult children are not forced to go assisted-living-shopping at the drop of a hat after Stroke #1. That's the difference here. We have many elderly who expect to remain in their own homes, in distant communities, who have made no plan or no concession to advancing age, and who resist relocating.

The burden, if one exists, is not in caring for one's elders per se. The burden, if there is one, often is created by elders who are resistant to an arrangement that meets the needs of the elders and of the kids and that is within financial reach.

I am in no way excusing those few persons who take the position that they don't want to be inconvenienced by the very real needs of their aging and generally cooperative parents, e.g., the phenomenon represented by those who say, "let's put mom or dad in the cheapest home we can find and as long as we pay the bill, we've done our duty." Those folks may well deserve your disdain.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 2:45 PM

Watching my 91-year-old live-in grandmother's effect on my parents' marriage has been heartbreaking. Grandma is in good physical health but mentally she is depressed, stubborn, and demanding. She moved into our house in 1994 and refuses to go into an assisted-living facility because she feels entitled to have us take care of her, just as she took care of her parents until they died. The difference is that she has never had a job, and my mom (her daughter) works 60-hour weeks -- honestly, I think she takes on more hours than she could just to be out of the house.

My sister and I live in the area and help out when we can, except Grandma is hard to deal with and relentlessly critical, asking us why we haven't married yet (we're 24 and 21) and how we're ungrateful.

My dad is fed up to the point of asking my mom to choose between him and her mother. I don't blame him. My mom is consumed with guilt, and I don't blame her either.

However, we've all agreed that my parents will NEVER live with me or my sister. It's a hard thing to resent your own grandmother. Anyone who is considering inviting their parents into their homes should consider the effect the decision will have on your family, especially now that people are living longer.

Posted by: Daughter of a WOHM | January 8, 2007 2:49 PM

In Vietnamese culture, the parents are cared for with love and respect from their oldest son and if no sons, oldest daughter. But on the other hand, the parents help out a lot more in that culture then the do here. Families are seen more as a full unit and not this in it for me only mentality. Adult childern often live with their parents way into their thirties. A lot of time married children live at home till they can afford their own home. Aged parents care for the grand kids and do a lot of the domestic work. I think families work together and thrive together. Families loan each other money to start businesses or buy a home. In a lot of families in the US, parents basically expect you to support your own education, first home, and care for your own children. I think US parents don't get as much help because they don't invest as much in their children.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 8, 2007 2:51 PM

anyone care to comment on how having an elderly parent live-in effects your younger children? How do you explain the progression of alzhemiers to your kids? Or do these sorts of things just work themselves out?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 2:52 PM

to anon at 2:52
We explained everything to our 16 year old and he understands. However, I have taken pains to shield my 11 year old. He has always been tight with Grandma and perhaps, that is what makes it difficult for us to talk with him frankly. I'm sure he is aware, but I have to admit I can't face the conversation with him. It was easier to treat the 16 year old as an adult and just speak frankly.

Posted by: dotted | January 8, 2007 2:57 PM

Dotted, Does your 11 year old get his feelings hurt when Grandma doesn't remember certain things about his life/interests/whatever? We have to explain short attention spans, failure to remember names of pets, but nothing big because we only visit 6 - 8 times per year and neither of my parents have progressed very far down that road yet.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 8, 2007 3:06 PM

Hey nclawyer!

I'm trying to think if the 11 year old ever gets his feelings hurt. He certainly isn't Mr Spock by any means, but rather, he is such a strong individualist. He just laughs with her and keeps going. He's an easy kid in many ways. At a time when his world is opening up so quickly, it is just so difficult to find the words to explain how her world is doing the exact opposite.

Posted by: dotted | January 8, 2007 3:13 PM

To the person who wrote in about trying to get VA benefits for their father and waited four years for a response, I say that is just terrible. If you had a claim pending at the time of your father's death, his widow/estate may still be eligible for benefits. I work for a branch of VA and I encourage everyone who is a veteran or who has a veteran parent to explore what benefits are available to them. I am sorry you had such a bad experience with VA. I know the agency can be really bad sometimes, but please take heart in knowing that some of us who work for VA take pride in what we do and really want to help veterans and their families.

ARlington, I thank you, my father was VERY proud to have served in WWII and insisted that when he died if anyone wanted to make donations in his name, they make them to a war veterans' home or hospital. We did so, of course. Since my mother died, and there is no 'estate', and there was no claim pending, what my father and his family got from the VA was exactly zero, a fine thank you that I hope persons like you can remedy for other veterans.

Posted by: Ritamae | January 8, 2007 3:14 PM

oh yeah...and this is the same woman who asked me if I had gained weight over the holidays and how much...do you see why I'm so very tolerant? She deserves tolerance right now...and much more.

Posted by: dotted | January 8, 2007 3:15 PM

Thanks, dotted, for offering your insight. It sounds as though, with his personality, if he wanted an explanation from you, he'd ask for one. As an aside, it sounds as though you're raising a very interesting, special kid.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 8, 2007 3:17 PM

"The US does have such benefits... if you know a WWII vet who is having trouble paying for their health care, including nursing home payments, they should contact the Department of Veteran's Affairs."

Are WWII vets the only ones who qualify? What about VietNam vets?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 3:18 PM

Glad I am not the only one with a nasty grandmother! My mother is moving her 89 year old mother (my gram) into an assisted living facility this week after she fell and spent 10 days in the hospital. When they moved her out of her house 8 years ago and into a condo she acted like a 3 year old - screaming, demanding - telling her kids they were good for nothing. It took her 2 years to stop threatening to get an attorney to get her house back. Now that she is physically unable to take care of herself and my uncle has power of attorney - they are moving her again. She will be a complete jerk about it, but they have to do it.

I feel sorry for my mom and her brothers but after talking to my cousin who lives in the area I know they are doing the right thing. My cousin told me "she is not making the decisions anymore so she will just have to deal with it." Easier said then done I am afraid!

Posted by: CMAC | January 8, 2007 3:21 PM

Having no kids, just a couple spoiled kitties, I will definitely be looking into long term care insurance soon for myself - fortunately I (hopefully) will be able to afford.
My mom is still doing well in her 70s, but is very pragmatic about growing older. She is the type my siblings and I will be fighting over to give her a place to stay. I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Posted by: Missicat | January 8, 2007 3:27 PM

"What about VietNam vets?"

They qualify, too. Most Vietnam vets aren't old enough to need nursing home care yet - my dad is only 62 and he served in the early years of the war.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 8, 2007 3:28 PM

LSE:

I love my children very much and hope that when they're adults that I will be able to be an active part of the lives of them and their families. But I'm with your mother; I would never live on the East Coast. I love where I live and this is my home. If my children choose to move from here I will visit them as often as I can, but if one of them ever demanded that I live near them on the other side of the country from my home, I would wonder who raised them to have that kind of self-absorbed attitude. Yes, I have four children - my parents also have four children in 3 different states - so that makes a difference, maybe. But even if I was an only child, I can't imagine being so demanding of my own parents that I would feel hurt if they didn't want to move with me to Timbuktu.

My ils recently bought a house in Arizona where they spend the winter. Neither my brother's family nor my husband and I have any wish to even visit Arizona and we totally don't "get" it. (Prior to the house they wintered there in an RV, which we did "get" - it's the putting down of roots there that we don't understand.) But they love it there, so we are happy for them and don't feel any hurt or resentment that they're not choosing to live their retirement in one of our towns/states.

Re: "today's parents"/Gen Xers being more involved.....well, I'm barely a GenXer - born in 1966. I'm almost a Boomer, technically. But I consider myself a "today parent" so I'll respond anyway. The reason we're "more involved" defined by the reasons you listed (we don't leave our kids unattended cars, we read to them, etc.) is because we as a society now know that those things are beneficial to the safety and well being of our children. If my mother had been told it's dangerous to leave a child in a car unattended or to ride without seatbelts/car seats in 1970 she certainly wouldn't have. (She did read to us though, so I'm not sure where you got that tidbit.) So your examples don't really hold much water.

And as far as "our parents" being more selfish than we are - I disagree. I realize that my parents must be much older than yours (they're 76 & 82) but considering our generation came up with the concept known as "me time" and that my parents worked their butts off to raise us with very little attention given to themselves until we were adults, I just don't see it.

Posted by: momof4 | January 8, 2007 3:28 PM

Having no kids, just a couple spoiled kitties, I will definitely be looking into long term care insurance soon for myself - fortunately I (hopefully) will be able to afford.
My mom is still doing well in her 70s, but is very pragmatic about growing older. She is the type my siblings and I will be fighting over to give her a place to stay. I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Posted by: Missicat | January 8, 2007 3:30 PM

re: Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 8, 2007 08:43 AM

My mother did this. She said to her mother: "People in homes do worse without visitors. I can't drive up and down interstate every weekend. You're moving to my town." Now my mom sees her 3-4 times a week.

Parenting your parents is hard. Bt if you are parenting, you just get to decide, right?

Posted by: to Armchair Mom | January 8, 2007 3:36 PM

Adultonly,

This situation has happened in my family. My dad's mother long stated her intention to stay in her home until she died. As it turned out, when she turned 90, my dad and uncle had recently come to the conclusion that the inevitable time had arrived--she could no longer take care of herself. They were helped to this decision in part by a telephone call from my grandmothers hairdresser, whom told them of a significant change in my grandmother over recent months (this came to my dad one month before her 90th birthday). Then, on a previously planned cruise with my uncles family, my grandmother fell and broke her pelvis. Facing months of rehabilitation and having to move out of her house into a nearby assisted living community (where her sister in law had lived for many years), she went into cardiac arrest early in the morning of the day she was to tranfer from the hospital to assisted living. She always bemoaned the fact that her children had left home when they grew up, completely forgetting that she and my grandfather had been living in Alexandria when my father was 10-18 years old, and he returned to this area after college, so more precisely, she left him, but we never actually corrected her.

My mothers mother was and still is very unhappy to have left her support network in her small town. Before, visitors from church came by, she had caregivers around the clock, and she lived in HER home. Now, she lives in my parents house, knows no one other than family, and spends a lot of time alone as my parents don't sit with her all day as the caregivers often did. She won't go out to church or other functions. As she doesn't see or hear well, and her memory is going, it is understandable--it is nearly impossible for her to develop relationships with people, and everything is so unfamiliar.

So for others who are witnessing our parents becoming caretakers for aging parents, how do you support your parents? My girls and I sometimes stay overnight with my grandmother to let my parents get out, but I think something more is needed. Any suggestions?

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 8, 2007 3:41 PM

to Armchair Mom,

you only get to decide if you have Power of Attorney or are the guardian. While your parents have all their faculties, you can't make them do much of anything. I mean, if you're names not on the deed to the house and the house will have to be sold in order to relocate your mom, and mom opposes relocation, you've hit a practical dead-end.

Does your mother's statement come across any differently if you imagine it as LSE saying to her mom, "Mom, you're moving to the East Coast, even though you hate it, because that's what works for me."

With luck, We'll all be old some day. Imagine how you'd want to act and how you'd want to be treated.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 3:42 PM

Yes! I felt the same way (felt like I wasn't doing enough to help my own parents who were doing elder care). In addition to helping out with your grandma, maybe you could go out with your parents, or go over to have dinner with them? I've found my parents like spending as much time with me as they can since they're so busy with my grandma, so I try to meet them for dinner either at their house or elsewhere. Soemtimes just having another person around the house with grandma helps. Good luck!

Posted by: For SMBY | January 8, 2007 3:46 PM

I am blessed that my MIL lives with my SIL and her husband in the family home - MIL has an 'apartment' with its own kitchen/bath/living/bedroom and is only expected to take care of her own light cleaning and her own cooking. BIL and SIL do the 'hard' work cleaning and repairs, etc. It's ideal for them - family home was paid for, so SIL and BIL have a rent free home (and they will inherit it once MIL passes on). FIL died several years ago.

What frightens me is not my parents (I'm younger than my partner by a significant number of years, and my parents are only in their forties now) but my grandparents. My mom's parents live in the same city as my aunts and uncles, and between the three families they are all willing and able to take are of them. My dad's parents, however, have my parents and sister in their city, and I fear that my sister, the nursing student who wants to be a midwife, will end up studying geriatrics firsthand and taking care of my grandparents when the time comes. My parents and my dad's sister just wouldn't be able to be helpful, I'm afraid - neither the temprament nor the ability. Money isn't the issue, just the same bullheadedness that so many have cited - grandparents have significant assets and a paid off house that's worth several times what they paid for it 30 years ago.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | January 8, 2007 3:47 PM

One thing to consider with elderly parents, particularly at the time of stressful life events like moving and giving up one's independence, is the possibility of clinical depression. This condition can contribute to the elderly person being mean, unhappy, or even just totally indecisive. There may be treatment available that will help them become happier and more readily responsible for themselves.

Of course, as with any depression sufferer, the problem can be that they are as uncooperative in seeking treatment as they are in other areas of life. If your parent might fit this condition, and if you are in contact with his or her doctor yourself, perhaps you can ask the doctor to suggest a depression screening.

By the way, I absolutely am not offering this as a criticism of anyone here or how they've handled their parents' situation. I'm just trying to put forth another possible option to people facing these sorts of difficulties.

Posted by: Tom T. | January 8, 2007 3:48 PM

It seems to me that we have two different situations with the "parent moving to the child's town" thing. It sounds like LSE's mom is still young-ish and completely able to care for herself...but that LSE wants her closer so she can see her grandson. A parent who needs help thus is asked to move to the child's town so that the help will be more readily available is a completely different thing.

Posted by: momof4 | January 8, 2007 3:48 PM

to Armchair Mom,

I submitted the 3:42 anon message and hit submit before recalling I'd addressed my message to you. My apologies for the unintended, and easily read, snarkiness of the last two sentences. Both were directed more toward myself, as in, Note to Self, and not directed toward you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 3:50 PM

Just curious - but the people on this blog that do not have children (nor intend to), what are your plans for when you are to old/ill to take care of yoursleves? Also, if your spouse passes away first or you are both to ill to take care of eachother? It seems like a lot of pressure to save up for those days.

My mothers aunt is slipping quickly, her husband and son died years ago. My grandparents (her sister) took care of her for years, and my parents take care of her now that my grandfather passed away. It seems like a lot of work!

Posted by: single mom | January 8, 2007 3:51 PM

I don't think it's a child's responsibility at all to look after his/her parents.

I did not become a parent in order to get something back from my daughter when I'm sick and old. What an awful burden to place upon your child's shoulders!

I've explicitly told family members to put me in a nice home. How will they pay for that home?? Let's see- I've been saving for it since I got my first job.

I am my OWN responsibility- NOT my daughter's. My husband and I got married to help one another in old age- we did not have a baby just to have her change our diapers in 60 years.

My grandfather lived with us (I was about 10 years old) and it was awful. The home revolved around him- my brother and I suffered, my parents' marriage suffered. Both parents worked full time, we were in school and had activities- he would have been much better off in a facility.

Why should adult kids risk their jobs and their kids' well being?

Also, what are you supposed to do in light of divorces and remarriages? Am I supposed to take care of ALL 8 grandparents??? What if my dad and mom and their spouses need help when my in laws need help? Am I supposed to give up my life and my daughter's life and take care of them?

It's just unrealistic and unfair. Parents raise kids to leave the nest

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | January 8, 2007 3:52 PM

TomT - that is absolutely correct. My GM, I think, greatly suffered form depression (on top of other things), but it was not really diagnosed - made things very difficult for my mother. I know it isn't a possibility with every family, but us kids (and sils) have all sat done with my step dad and mother to ask what they want, and what they expect. Luckily they are very healthy (mom is 80 and still running her own business) - one thing that surprised me from the sit down, was that we all agreed that one of my sil's would have the health care proxy - she is a nurse, and we all trust her to do what's best, and then my brothers and I would not be in a position of having different expections, but would have it in the hands of a professional.

Posted by: RJ | January 8, 2007 3:57 PM

Just curious - but the people on this blog that do not have children (nor intend to), what are your plans for when you are to old/ill to take care of yoursleves? Also, if your spouse passes away first or you are both to ill to take care of eachother? It seems like a lot of pressure to save up for those days.

My mothers aunt is slipping quickly, her husband and son died years ago. My grandparents (her sister) took care of her for years, and my parents take care of her now that my grandfather passed away. It seems like a lot of work!

Posted by: single mom | January 8, 2007 3:58 PM

Just curious - but the people on this blog that do not have children (nor intend to), what are your plans for when you are to old/ill to take care of yoursleves? Also, if your spouse passes away first or you are both to ill to take care of eachother? It seems like a lot of pressure to save up for those days.

My mothers aunt is slipping quickly, her husband and son died years ago. My grandparents (her sister) took care of her for years, and my parents take care of her now that my grandfather passed away. It seems like a lot of work!

Posted by: single mom | January 8, 2007 3:59 PM

"It's just unrealistic and unfair. Parents raise kids to leave the nest."

On the contrary, it's quite realistic to expect family members to take care of you as you age. Whether it's fair, I'll leave to others.

I take issue with your last statement though. If you intend to parent by preparing your children only to leave the nest, then you'll likely find they make all life decisions with nary a thought for you. They certainly will note how you make your life decisions.

If, on the other hand, you parent by preparing your children to understand and appreciate their obligations to community & society, to country, to God -- if you believe -- and to parents/elders, then you may be blessed to find that they appreciate duty, obligation and honor and make their life decisions with you, in part, in mind. It's all a matter of values and priorities -- not that mine are better than yours, but that they are different and not all of us agree that the goal of parenting, as you described it, is as narrow as you described it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 3:59 PM

single mom -
I am in my mid-40s, divorced and don't have children. The future is something I am planning for now - as I mentioned earlier, I am looking into longterm care insurance, I am trying to pay off all my creditcard debt (almost there!), and am contributing what I can to my IRA. My condo should be paid off by the time I retire. All this doesn't leave me a lot left over at the end of the month, but I feel it will be worth it, as my back up plan is to win the lottery. :-)

Posted by: Missicat | January 8, 2007 4:01 PM

"It's just unrealistic and unfair. Parents raise kids to leave the nest."

On the contrary, it's quite realistic to expect family members to take care of you as you age. Whether it's fair, I'll leave to others.

I take issue with your last statement though. If you intend to parent by preparing your children only to leave the nest, then you'll likely find they make all life decisions with nary a thought for you. They certainly will note how you make your life decisions.

If, on the other hand, you parent by preparing your children to understand and appreciate their obligations to community & society, to country, to God -- if you believe -- and to parents/elders, then you may be blessed to find that they appreciate duty, obligation and honor and make their life decisions with you, in part, in mind. It's all a matter of values and priorities -- not that mine are better than yours, but that they are different and not all of us agree that the goal of parenting, as you described it, is as narrow as you described it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 4:02 PM

to those who think somehow we posters are feeling burdened, WE ARE! THere is a real difference today compared to earlier. People are living longer and having longer illnesses b/c meds and lifestyle keep their bodies going longer than their heads in some cases or with skilled care, you can fade away indefinitely. Earlier generations just up and died earlier. Look it up!

Posted by: older and older | January 8, 2007 4:06 PM

My husband had cut off all contact with his mother before we met, she was a drug addict who abandoned him and only brought a lot of unhappiness every time she came around. About a year ago she was kicked out of public housing and moved in with her mother (illegally since DH's grandmother lives in a 55+ retirement community and his mother is only in her forties). His grandmother is too sick to to do anything, and his mother helps a little bit, but since they are both in very poor health it is now up to us to take care of them. I do support us moving to Seattle; it will allow us to actually buy a house w/o having a long commute to work, but as with any large life change, I'm a little nervous. I worry about dealing with my husband's mother because she has hurt him so much in the past and constantly does things to hinder him helping her. (we haven't met only because I haven't been out to Seattle since she moved back in with her mother)

Posted by: Newlywed | January 8, 2007 4:06 PM

"It's just unrealistic and unfair. Parents raise kids to leave the nest."

So when your kid daughter is thirty and has a health issue are you going to say: "to bad, I raised you to leave the nest."

Come on, families should support one another.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 4:19 PM

I've got a lot of money saved, a good pension, and a friend who is 10 years younger than I am who has POA, etc. I'm pretty frugal so I expect to make the money last. I plan to leave my jewelry collection to my niece, and any unspent net worth will go to a scholarship fund for women in engineering. I haven't invested in long term care insurance, because when I'm senile, I won't care where I am.

Posted by: random childfree | January 8, 2007 4:25 PM

Forced - Children are forced to do something about their parents, not because they consider them a burden, but because their parents have a problem that prevents them from continuing to live un-assisted.

Most NORMAL people I know do not want their parents to leave their longstanding homes, and do not take steps to move them unless their parents clearly are not able to care for themselves.

This is why you so often see elderly couples who live alone and get along well enough. Then one sickens and dies. The other can't function without the other and ends up moving. They work together to fill in the parts required for independent living.

It is the rare parent who in the face of a major life crisis can find a new place to live, pack up a household, sell a house and get moved. Sometimes the parent has said ahead of time where they want to go when they can't function alone anymore, and sometimes they haven't.

Please get the notion that elder care is a burden and children do not take action because they don't want the responsibility out of your thinking.

Adult children do not want their parents to become ill and infirmed. It is a sad thing to witness. It reminds us that this will happen to us as well!

But it does happen, and it is at that moment of acceptance of this inevitable thing that children are forced to step in and help their parents through this major life transition.

Posted by: RoseG | January 8, 2007 4:29 PM

Veteran's Affairs is for all vets. Those that are wartime vets, in particular, are offered quite a few benefits.

Posted by: to 3:18pm | January 8, 2007 4:38 PM

Another problem with parents aging and not being able to live alone is the financial aspect. If the parent (like my mother) hasn't saved any money then we end up taking care of her financially. It isn't the time that care takes but not everyone can afford to financially care for two people on a single salary.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 8, 2007 4:39 PM

Have any of these people complaining about the cost thought about the fact that maybe their parents didn't save any money because they were supporting their children and putting them through school. Honetly I have never heard a more selfish, unsympathetic group in my life. Why should your parents move and give up their life in their final years. I don't think that people have any idea how difficult it is to age, to feel bad every day, to lose your spouse, your friends, to have the damoclean sword of death hanging over you. Of course they want to stay where it is familiar and comfortable, of course they don't want to give up driving so they don't become a shut in. I'm not saying that some of these things don't have to happen, but I think it would really be helpful to view it through a more sympathetic lens. I don't expect my children to drop everything to come care for me, but I sure hope that they will handle my decline and inevitable failings and difficulties with sympathy and consideration as I did them when they were small and in need.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 4:46 PM

I am in a sandwich I guess.

Mom is memory impaired, my kids are kids and I enjoy and dread the combination sometimes.

I have cued my kids to go along Granny in her converstations, and to speak clearly and firmly if they expect to be heard. Often granny doesnt know where she is or what is going on so we tend to go with a vacation theme or ask her how life is going on at the yacht club (her assisted living facility). Who needs reality at her age?

Seriously, we try to enjoy the times we spend with Granny, but sometimes her frustration and confusion can foment friction and conflict - those are the moments I dread.

Having the future planning discussion is always better before the broken pelvis, hip, ankle etc - but people can be stubborn. Passing the baton on family leadership can be a tricky exchange. Pause before you criticise - expecially with 20/20 hindsight.

oh yeah, avoid the emergency room with elderly parents, -schedule a doctor's appt instead. Their immune systems are usually weak and your just risking infection. Bring sanitary wipes if you have to go, or if they went anyway. The number of times we did the whirlwind tour for an x-ray after a fall - and within 2weeks full on flu! AAAAARRRGGGH.

Posted by: Fo3 | January 8, 2007 4:47 PM

RoseG - I apologize, I think I read your original comments about being forced the wrong way, being "forced" as in you didn't want to help b/c it is a burden versus being forced to help as in you don't want to interfere with their independence but have to because they can't take care of themselves. The latter I definitely agree with and recognize that parents often need help whether they want it/ask for it at all and the child is forced to take action.

Posted by: Forced?? | January 8, 2007 4:50 PM

To anonymouse 04:46
I won't speak for anyone else but my case is different. My mother left our family when I was 16. I took care of my dad, sister and brother while going to high school. Not complaining as it did make me a strong person. When her parents died she inherited a decent amount of money and blew every dime of it. She spends every penny that she gets - she even puts her phone bill on her credit card because she had to have a new printer for her computer. She couldn't wait 3 or 4 weeks for a rebate to come through so she could pay cash.
My brother and I bought her a car last year. What is her response? Oh, now my insurance will go up.
We bought her a new computer.
We have paid off her credit cards multiple times. We are getting to where we need to start saving ourselves for our retirement and can't keep subsidizing hers - sorry if that sounds mean but she just takes and takes and rarely gives (not materially - of herself).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 8, 2007 4:54 PM

Folks, it is possible to raise children to be independent and loving at the same time. You teach them by example.

You also paradoxically want to spare them the need to care for you, even if it happens through no one's fault.

Posted by: JSW | January 8, 2007 4:58 PM

My husband and I are late-20s with no children. We haven't given much thought to "who" will take care of us when we get older. We are planning ahead financially, of course, but are not planning to have children simply to have caretakers when we are old. That would not be fair to a child.

Posted by: adult only | January 8, 2007 4:59 PM

Folks, it is possible to raise children to be independent and loving at the same time. You teach them by example.

You also paradoxically want to spare them the need to care for you, even if it happens through no one's fault.

Posted by: JSW | January 8, 2007 5:01 PM

My FL recently died. Do you believe my husbands company expected him to take a laptop and work when not at the funeral service? I guess that is better than his son who was not given time off for a grandparent's death. His father lived almost 500 miles away and we are both exhausted since he was given very little time off .(Of course he is expected to now make up the time) Hard to be sandwich with no social support.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 5:01 PM

My husband and I are late-20s with no children. We haven't given much thought to "who" will take care of us when we get older. We are planning ahead financially, of course, but are not planning to have children simply to have caretakers when we are old. That would not be fair to a child.

Posted by: adult only | January 8, 2007 5:01 PM

Didn't Rabbi Hillel invent the sandwich?

Posted by: Tomcat | January 8, 2007 5:22 PM

To SMitch:

I know what you mean about artifacts. When my father died, his wife got an old Victrola that was one of my mother's prized possessions and had been in my/her family since it was new. She also got a large china wash bowl and stand that had been made for my mother by her sister, my aunt. My father specifically left the second wife all household possessions. I got some money, which I didn't care nearly as much about. My advice? Better get used to no attachments to sentimental items.

Posted by: Only Child | January 8, 2007 5:23 PM

Didn't Rabbi Hillel invent the sandwich?

Posted by: Tomcat | January 8, 2007 5:23 PM

I have no children and in my 50's. I don't expect social security to take care of me and my job in the computer field has meant lay off (when companies merge) so no pension and 401Ks scatted around. I plan on working as long as I can and try to enjoy some retirement but I pray that we mercifully change our laws on assisted suicide and when I can no longer care for myself be allowed to die.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 5:38 PM

some parents saved for retirement. mine did. some parents do not save. to somehow say that it is the kids fault the parents don't have any retirement savings is misguided. how can you blame the kids when they haven't been "home" for 15 years or more?

i am grateful for insurance. it took my father 6 months & nearly a million dollars to die of cancer. my mother's long term care policy paid for her care for the last 2 years of her life. is it crass of me to mention money when i'm taking about my parents?? maybe, but if my father hadn't had insurance then the weight of the debt of my father's illness would have crushed my entire family.

Posted by: quark | January 8, 2007 5:47 PM

No, I invented the sandwich.

Posted by: Al Gore | January 8, 2007 5:50 PM

No, I invented the sandwich.

Posted by: Al Gore | January 8, 2007 5:51 PM

F03 - all elderly people should have a flu shot

Posted by: experienced mom | January 8, 2007 5:55 PM

When I graduated from high school (I as 18), my parents gave me three months to get a job and move out. They told me their legal obligation to me was over, and that it was time for me to spread my wings and be independent. I did get a job, and eventually put myself through school. It was tough, but it was worth it. My parents did not contribute to my college education or to my living expenses past those initial three months after high school. So now they are older and require care, but I have made it very clear to them that they are not my responsibility, just as I was not theirs. You reap what you sow. I intend fully to help my kids through college. In a way, it helps not to be saddled by the parents.

Posted by: not my problem | January 8, 2007 5:57 PM

the deceased father's bills are paid by his estate, right? Why would children have to take on the bills? If the wife can't pay them, aren't the health care providers out of luck?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 6:01 PM

Bankruptcy is often the most viable option for crippling health care debt. It's a bit harder to file and get a discharge now, and sometimes harder to find a lawyer to handle it for a reasonable price (a lot of attorneys are getting out of the biz because the cost/benefit analysis changed a lot in 2005). Still, it is an option available to those who need it.

Posted by: adult only | January 8, 2007 6:12 PM

For multiple generations in my caucasian, metro-area-dwelling family, the grandmother has moved in with the family when she hits retirement (which often coincides with children being born). The grandma then becomes the primary caregiver for the new baby, until the point where she needs care herself, which is provided by her child, with whom she is conveniently living. (Where's the grandfather, you ask? Men die early in my family sadly, we've never gotten that far in the past 3 generations).

Same thing will happen when I have my baby: my mom is conveniently retired (my father is alive but out of the picture), and will move in with my husband and myself to take care of the baby while I finish my schooling. In turn, I will take care of her as she needs it when she gets older. It's just how it's done in my family: I've taken the tradition as a given since my childhood, when my grandma took care of me. People tell me "you're so lucky!" but really, I don't feel lucky: I feel like the people telling me that are UNlucky.

I'm not sure it boils down to boomers being selfish and disconnected like a previous poster wrote: but I *DO* think that Americans nowadays are very "me" oriented. What do *I* want, what do *I* deserve, what makes *me* feel good, etc. Family -- or rather, an effective family -- is about pulling together, no matter what the circumstance.

Posted by: StudentMomToBe | January 8, 2007 6:13 PM

"Those of you whom plan to live with your children in your golden years might want to mention it to your kid's prospective mates....."

Some of the people who plan to live with their children in their golden years take care of that by living in extended-family households and arranging for their kids to marry their nieces and nephews who already live with them.

"To the anon poster who read snobbery into someone's comment about janitorial and secretarial positions, you may be right in your read of the initial post. On the other hand, some of us come from smaller towns where the career options are quite limited. You're correct that those options encompass more than janitorial and secretarial positions -- not that there's anything wrong with those, as they say -- but not everyone wants to, or has the skill set to, sell real estate or work at one of the two local banks."

...and I wouldn't be surprised if not everyone who has the willingness and skill set to work at a local bank has parents who live near a bank that's hiring!

I made that comparison just to highlight two extremes of this trend I noticed, not to claim no middle exists between them (a big middle does exist!). The rarer a kind of job is, the more employers are willing to pay to fill the few open jobs, so you might face a tradeoff: more positions to choose from and less pay per position vs. fewer positions to choose from and more pay per position (and encouraging someone to have the most positions to choose from might involve encouraging them to earn the lowest pay). Of course, a few fields like nursing might count as exceptions.

Meanwhile, what about when people marry their college sweethearts instead of their high school sweethearts? If the bride's parents and groom's parents don't live close to each other, then how can the bride and groom follow the live-near-your-parents tradition without giving up the live-with-your-spouse tradition?

"The almightly dollar is what da#$ well pays for the care that these old people need in their golden years you fool."

Right on.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 7:10 PM

Why do you feel compelled to help out your dead beat Mom? I really don't get it. Save yourself and your family and cut the cord.... I just don't get the "family at all costs" thing.

Posted by: To KLS BB MD | January 8, 2007 7:39 PM

My husband and I, both in our mid 60s, placed an advance deposit with a wonderful nearby retirement community several years ago so that an apartment will be available when we are ready to move (the waiting list is 5-7 years long). We also set-up legal and financial plans through an elder-care attorney so our only son knows what our wishes are.

During the past 40 years my husband I were self-employed and rarely went on vacation. Now we cannot enjoy retirement because he is responsible for looking after his frail 81-year-old sister and I feel duty-bound to help my 90-year-old parents. Even though his sister and my parents live in a life-care community only 20 minutes from our house, it's still stressful dealing with hoarding problems, medication management, doctor visits, physical therapy, and making time to socialize.

Posted by: Elderchild | January 8, 2007 8:02 PM

'Why do you feel compelled to help out your dead beat Mom? I really don't get it. Save yourself and your family and cut the cord.... I just don't get the "family at all costs" thing.'

love her, have her over for dinner, sure, but don't give her any more money!!! Until she needs medical care.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 8, 2007 8:18 PM

'Why do you feel compelled to help out your dead beat Mom? I really don't get it. Save yourself and your family and cut the cord.... I just don't get the "family at all costs" thing.'

Hey, I oppose enabling as much as the next person, but see above for comments about duty, obligation and, on occasion, being a better kid than a parent deserves.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 8:37 PM

My husband's aunt went to live with his Grandma when Grandma was too old to live by herself. Only problem is, the aunt's husband couldn't move because of his job, so the aunt lived apart from her husband. This went on for twenty years. The aunt and her husband were very religious and felt it was their obligation, based on the same logic cited above, that your parents took care of you so you should take care of them. And the grandmother was so attached to her home that she woudln't leave it. I told my husband the bible says to cleave to your spouse and I'm not living apart from him to care for a parent (his or mine) who doesn't want to move house. His parents were allowed to live together and enjoy their marriage, and I don't plan to give up the same right in order to care for them. However, they're welcome to move in with us if they want.

Posted by: m | January 8, 2007 11:27 PM

"Just curious - but the people on this blog that do not have children (nor intend to), what are your plans for when you are to old/ill to take care of yoursleves?"

Having children so that you'll have someone to take care of you in old age is ridiculous. Don't count on it. Even if they are the best kids in the world, your child(ren) could easily die before you. I've seen it happen to two family friends who are now widowed and childless in their early 70s.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:21 PM

Most of us should realize that the people who care for us more in old age will be those friends of similar age around us. For many reasons, your children may not be there for you, or at least not step in until you are very ill. This is especially true if you choose not to move to be near any of your children or younger family members. So, build your network of friends because they will be the people who see you daily/weekly and will notice when you aren't out and about or come by when you're ill with the flu.

Posted by: Morgan | January 9, 2007 1:24 PM

Experienced Mom, a flu shot doesn't mean you won't get the flu.

I learned that from experience.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:30 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company