Questions from the Sandwich Generation
The snow and winter are finally getting behind us and spring yard projects are being started. Your parents have seemed to have had a tough winter — colds, accidents, etc; and you wonder if you are the only person with questions. Life today is active, especially for women aged 45 — 55 who care for both their parents and children. These are the people caught in the “sandwich generation”.
People caught in the sandwich generation seem to have many of the same questions. This month’s column will ask some of those questions.
QUESTION: Mom and dad have been married for years. When they got married their marriage vows said: “they become as one”. Now, mom has a problem with memory and dad wants to call the doctors today to ask: what are her medical conditions; and what are any possible treatments. Mom really cannot answer for herself and dad did not go with her to the doctor. He is asking if he can ask the medical office by phone about his wife.
ANSWER: No, people should discuss healthcare and financial powers of attorney (POA) while they are healthy. A proper POA would allow dad to ask questions for his wife.
QUESTION: Dad has not filled out his POA papers, because he does not have any of his property sold or discussions made about his healthcare. Does a completed POA take his right to make a decision away?
ANSWER: No, usually people must be found incompetent to make that decision on their own before a POA would become active. This will become a medical and legal question, but financial POAs may be written with safeguards.
QUESTION: Dad wants to prepare for future health needs, so he is gathering information and giving you his notes — Is this a good idea or a waste of time?
ANSWER: Talking and reviewing dad’s notes is a very good idea. Dad is making you aware of his wishes for future events. This can present an opportunity for a quality discussion. Someday, you may find this information to provide you with a sense of peace.
QUESTION: Mom has dementia and we are worried that mom will wander away from her home. Is this common?
ANSWER, Yes, according to the Alzheimer’s Assoc. about 60% of people with the disease will wander. There may be wander bracelets available for your loved one.
QUESTION: A friend tells you: all assisted living homes are alike. Is this true?
ANSWER: No, homes may be Assisted or Supportive living and be similar. Supportive Living will allow a person to spend down to Medicaid and stay in that facility. However many other differences exist. See our website for more differences and more commonly asked questions.
Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do to manage this? Three words of advice: Plan, Plan, and Plan. Legal, financial, residential, mental, and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions, and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis.