support for the sandwich generation

Are you the meat in the sandwich – for those caught in the middle

support for the sandwich generation
Support is available while you are the meat in the sandwich between children and aging parents

Have you heard of the ‘sandwich generation’? Are you the meat in the middle – still finishing the child raising and caring for aging parents? This sandwich generation is now different than it has ever been before. It is the older Generation X and the younger Boomer generation now in this position. This means this sandwich generation has more dual career couples, more divorces, and generally more independent people juggling the younger and older generations.

Certainly you are blessed when you have children who are nearly or newly on their own AND you still have your parents. So many of us miss that opportunity.

If you do have this opportunity, it can be very challenging. Typically there are several other things happening around the same time.

Other changes while you’re the meat in the sandwich

The sandwich phase usually comes while in your late 40’s through your 60’s. During this time some other commonalities are:

  • You’re at the peak of your career
  • Friendships/relationships are no longer made through your children’s activities
  • Your own health is changing
  • If you’re a woman, you’re somewhere near menopause which brings its own health changes
  • You’re thinking about your ‘bucket list’

Tips for you to be the best ‘meat’ possible

It is so easy to get caught up in the needs of your parents and children and to forget about you in the process. If you fall ill, get injured, or burn out, then everyone loses. I don’t mean to add to your pressure. I just want to encourage you to take care of yourself as the caregiver.

  • Sleep to maintain clear thinking and patience
  • Exercise to stay healthy and stay strong
  • Healthy diet with fruits and vegetables vs grab-n-go fast food
  • Time off to maintain your mental health

Resources to help you

There are many resources available to help you as you help your aging parents. With the aging of the population, the numbers and types of resources are rapidly increasing.

Medications are often involved when someone reaches a point where they have difficulty living without assistance. That is our specialty at Meds MASH. Over 80% of people we see have a specific medication issue that we work with you doctor to address to help you stay safe at home. For 100% of all people we have seen, we have provided important education about medicines and how to get the most from healthcare visits.

There are several types of services that can assist with safely aging at home or in a place designed for safe aging. There are homecare services that can provide someone to help with tasks such as companionship, housekeeping, bathing, cooking, driving, and more. There are independent living communities with assisted living options when needed. There are assisted living facilities at many sizes, price ranges, and amenities.

If your parents’ home would be safer with some modifications, look for a contracting that is a certified aging in place specialist. You can learn more at http://www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx

A certified aging life care manager is an expert on your local resources that can assist with healthy aging. I think of these people as one-stop-shopping for many of your questions and needs. You can learn more at http://www.aginglifecare.org.

Legal and financial questions can be complex. These are elements that are easiest to address while your parents are still fully in command of their own finances. That is a good time to plan for the future in case you, your siblings or other friends/family will assume control of those key areas of your parent’s life. Decisions about advanced directives, power of attorney, and memorial wishes are easiest to make while your parents are fully able to make their own decisions. However, even if you miss that window, these resources (elder care attorney and financial advisor) can help guide you through each step. Here is a resource that can help you find an eldercare lawyer http://www.naela.org/findlawyer.

This is a very brief overview of the many resources that exist to help you and your parents navigate this sandwich time of life. We are glad to help you navigate this complex time and to identify these helpful resources. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

This blog has acknowledged how difficult and consuming this time of life can be – in the phase of supporting children and aging parents. Resources and tips for self-care have been provided.

Another essential aspect for all of the complex phases of life is an awareness of the sufficiency of God.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

As in this verse, Paul is very clear that he was weak and unable to do what God called him to do. But, God was more than sufficient to get Paul through the many struggles, the imprisonment, the rejection, and the difficult travel.

To further understand that verse, let’s put it in perspective. Paul describes a health problem he had that he asked God to remove. Here is the response:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul further encourages us that Christ can sustain us through all of the highs and lows.

Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

We try and try to do it all ourselves. And, have you noticed how that doesn’t work?

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 ESV

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,

So, as you work through this complex time as the meat in the sandwich, remember the source of your strength. No, you can’t do it alone. So remember, you are NEVER in this alone.

Psalm 73:23 ESV

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: <a href=”http://cliparts.co”>Clip arts</a>

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Senior Service Providers – a huge network of resources

occupational_therapist
There are many types of senior service providers for you to research in your area.

Our population is aging! And there is a rapidly growing network of Senior Service Providers to help promote healthy, safe aging. I was first introduced to this ever expanding network about a year and a half ago.

So I want to introduce you to the many resources available to you, to your aging loved ones, and to anyone you know who is anxious to stay as healthy as possible.

I don’t think it would be possible to make a list like this complete. So know if you have a specific need not listed, search for what you need. I’m fairly certain someone has thought of that need and designed a solution. At the end of this blog I’ll point you toward a think-tank of even more innovative solutions being pursued.

Senior Service Providers to seek in your area

  • Aging-in-Place/Home Safety
  • Assisted Living Placement Services
  • Assistive Technology Devices
  • Certified Care Management
  • Computer & Technology Services
  • Daily Money Management
  • Estate Liquidation & Cleanout
  • Financial Services & Insurance
  • Fitness and Balance Classes
  • Home Modification and Repairs
  • In-Home Primary Care Provider
  • Legal Services
  • Licensed Massage Therapy
  • Medicaid Planning
  • Medical Alert Systems
  • Medication Management
  • Mortgage & Reverse Mortgage
  • Move Coordination from your home
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Personal Historian
  • Physical Therapy
  • Private Duty & Home Care
  • Real Estate
  • Senior Living Communities
  • Transportation

Ways to find senior service providers

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. If you want to modify a home to make it safer, there are specialists that can help you. Look for the ‘Aging in Place’ certification. If you want to know what resources are available in your particular community, find a local Lifecare Manager at www.aginglifecare.org. If you are faced with downsizing, moving from home to assisted living or in with children, or arranging for someone to move in with you, there are a host of specialists to help. There are realtors specialized in homes designed for safe aging; mortgage and reverse mortgage specialists to help find the best rates, companies that specialize in helping you sort through your belongings and sell those you don’t plan to keep to convert them to cash; and companies that specialize in sorting through horded materials. There are companies that will pack you, move your belongings, and unpack them so that they are right where you want them.

There are lawyers specializing in the sensitive needs of older adults making financial and legal decisions. You can find specialists that will manage your bills and finances for you in your home – http://aadmm.com.

Note, some of these services are covered by insurance while others are out-of-pocket. Be sure to ask about costs as you research your options.

And, as promised, I want to tell you about Aging 2.0. This organization is pulling together innovative people with any kind of solution that will enhance healthy aging. It gives those innovators a platform to share their innovation, perhaps find funding, and network with other providers so they can collaborate and offer a more robust service. You can learn more at https://www.aging2.com/about-us/.

I have been amazed at all of the available resources. I hope you find hope in the many kinds of senior service providers that can help you in your quest for healthy aging. For more information about options, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

As Christians, we have a lot of resources at our disposal, too. Within the body of believers we have every kind of gift and skill. In Acts the believers supported each other and shared everything. We don’t do that, but we can use our gifts to help each other in whatever God is calling us to do.

Acts 4:32-37 ESV

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.  And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.  Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

The messages about helping each other are found in the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible.

Hebrews 13:16 ESV

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Philippians 2:4 ESV

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

It is through going to Church, being part of small groups, participating in Bible studies, and other times of fellowship that we can find out about the needs. Then, as we consider our own gifts, we can align ourselves with the needs where we can be of assistance. We can also help connect those with needs to those with matching gifts among our Christian community. It is so beautiful when those matches come together!

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Aging effects

Aging – the good, the bad, the medication issues

Aging effects
Changes come with aging – some impact best medication use.

You are aging. No matter your overall health, your lifestyle choice, your beliefs about the medical system, you are aging.

If you do EVERYTHING right when it comes to healthy living, will aging stop? No.

Here are some changes that occur in all of us with aging.

  • Kidney function starts a very gradual decline in your late 30’s or early 40’s.
  • Liver size and blood flow to your liver diminish. The number of cells shrinks. There is less activity of the enzymes that break down medications.
  • Food and medications move through the intestine more slowly.
  • The volume of urine that the bladder can hold decreases. Bladder muscles weaken.
  • For men, the prostate gland increases in size.
  • For women, the urethra shortens and becomes thinner. So, risk of urinary tract infection goes up.
  • Muscles weaken as growth hormone levels decline.
  • Aldosterone levels decrease, so risk of dehydration goes up.
  • The immune system slows down. So, risk of infection and cancer go up. Also, it can take longer to treat an infection.
  • Heart muscle and blood vessels get stiffer. This can increase risk of high blood pressure. Also, with exercise, the heart can’t pump as much blood or speed up as much as it did at younger ages. So, exercise capacity is lower.
  • The muscles involved in breathing weaken. There is a decline in the number of small sacs in the lungs where oxygen is passed to the blood.
  • The amount of water in the body goes down while the body fat goes up.

This is not intended to alarm or depress you. With aging also comes wisdom, experience, tolerance, and the benefits of many life lessons. So, celebrate the process with its good and challenging elements.

As a pharmacist, I want you to understand how and why medications should be prescribed differently at different ages. Any medical conditions; habits such as smoking or excess alcohol consumption; excess weight; and other factors can further impact how medication actions change over time.

The first step of a medication’s actions comes when it is presented to the body. Most often it is swallowed and then has to be absorbed. Absorption is not impacted very much by normal aging, but it is impacted by medications that lower stomach acid, change the rate of the gastrointestinal tract, or by stomach or intestine procedures.

The second step is distribution. The medication, once absorbed, is distributed throughout the body. Some medications prefer fat and other prefer water. As we age, we have more body fat and less body water. So, medications that love water are more concentrated in the overall smaller total amount of water. The medications that love fat are distributed to more places and can be harder to gather it all back together to get rid of it.

The third step is metabolism. This is how the medication is broken down in the body. Some medications have to be broken down in order to get rid of them. Others have to be broken down in order to reach their more active form. Metabolism happens in the liver. Over time, the liver becomes less active, so it takes longer to break down some medications.

The fourth step is elimination. This is how the medication leaves the body. Most medications are either eliminated through the urine or through the feces (stool). So, any decrease in kidney function will slow down the elimination through the urine. Any slowing, shortening, or other issues with the intestines and colon can impact the elimination through the feces.

The important point of mentioning all of this is to make you aware that medications act differently in your body as you age. The medication, the dose, the timing that was good for you 10 years ago might not be the best for you now. Your doctor shouldn’t prescribe medications in the same way for a 70 year old person as prescribed for a 30 year old person.

I encourage you to ask your doctor and your pharmacist to carefully review your medications to be sure all are correct for your age and your unique set of medical conditions.

We would also be happy to provide that very thorough assessment for you. You can contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

A life of faith is a long pursuit. It often takes time to develop perseverance and character, hope and joy in all circumstances.

Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Throughout the Psalms and Proverbs age is revered with dignity and honor.

Proverbs 16:31 ESV

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Psalm 71:18 ESV

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Psalm 92:12-15 ESV

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalm 71:9 ESV

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

Proverbs 20:29 ESV

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

At the end of this life we have the promise of a glorious eternity. It makes the aging and the waiting easier to dwell on what is to come!

2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: National Institute of Aging; National Institutes of Health; US Department of Health and Human Services.