As a solid member of the sandwich generation, I have two of my three kids living at home AND have my mother in law here too! And according to most projections, many of you will be in the same situation at some time, at least the “caring for your parents” part.
Before I get too far down the line, let's talk about my husband's Mom who has lived with us off and on for the last 10 years.
When we moved from Florida to Colorado in late 2009, we brought Mom along with us because she was getting older and we didn't want to leave her alone with no support system.
My husband's Dad had died in his early 40s, and while Mom had had one love interest since then, generally she was a pretty solitary kind of gal.
While living in Colorado, Mom fell down the stairs and broke her leg pretty radically, and we adopted 3 kids from foster care (hence the sandwich part of my story!)
When we decided to move back to Florida, Mom moved back into her own condo and was doing okay, we thought, until she fell and laid on the floor for two days before contacting us for help… sigh.
We moved Mom in and my big girl who was ready to be on her own moved into Mom's condo. Mom is not able to care for herself due to dementia so now my husband and I have the responsibility for a 12 year old, 15 year old and 73 year old.
Caring For Mom At Home
While my Mother In Law is pretty set up financially, she for SURE can't afford to pay $3-4,000 a month for assisted living or $5-7,000 a month for memory care.
Her funds would run out long before her life probably will (her Mom lived into her early 90s).
So living with us is the best solution for now.
Luckily my husband and I both work from home, but if we didn't one of us would for sure would have to quit our job to stay home and make sure she eats, is safe, takes her medicine twice a day at specific times and goes to 3-5 doctors appointments per month.
America's Aging Population
Having attended a symposium for dementia earlier this year, there is an awareness that more elder care will need to be handled by families at home.
Those are families like ours!
According to this study on dementia, “Extrapolated to the population, an estimated 3.3 million older adults developed incident moderately severe dementia between 2012 and 2016. Within this cohort, 64% received care at home”
But at the same time more care is moving to homes, there are fewer workers available to provide support in home care for this aging population.
Maine, which has the oldest population, is harbinger of what is coming. The number of elderly needing in home care is eclipsing the number of young people available or willing to work to support them.
“Experts say the nation will have to refashion its workforce, overhaul its old-age programs and learn how to care for tens of millions of elderly people without ruining their families’ financial lives.” source Washington Post
Realities of Caring For Your Mom At Home
We moved Mom in with us, but other adult children move into their parent's homes.
There are definitely problems that we didn't anticipate like Mom saying mean things to our kids, having to have someone home to “mom-sit” her and infinite stress as I try to make sure everyone gets enough time and attention (my husband helps, but most of the running around and emotional support falls to me).
We have accomplished that by tag-teaming. Our kids rarely get both parents at their sporting events, generally one of us stays home with Mom. Going out to eat or taking her to visit is a production that is often just not worth the effort.
I have had to change my business to be more flexible. I had thought that now that my kids are getting older I could spend more time working, but between doctors appointments and caring for Mom, I am back to limited work hours the same way as when my kids were little and needed my time and attention.
If I worked a “real job” with regular hours, we would have to have in home care to remind Mom to eat, take her medicine and take showers.
At times when she has a Urinary Tract Infection or problems with her medication I have to act as a nurse and housekeeper, cleaning up feces and urine and making sure she doesn't have spoiled food in her room that could make her sick. (not trying to be graphic, but “accidents” are a way of life now)
Being an in-home caregiver is exhausting and stressful to say the least.
Looking ahead to when our kids graduate and we become empty-nesters, there is a concern about “what do we do about Mom?”
There are not going to be easy answers to any of this. Mom is at the very beginning of the Baby Boomers generation which means more Sandwich Generation Moms and Dads like us will be caring for elderly and children at the same time.