Jane Gross: How to Make a Better Sandwich

Among women caring for their parents, none face the rock-and-a-hard-place choices of those in the so-called sandwich generation. Now, a new analysis estimates that there are 20 million Americans ”” the vast majority of them mothers ”” who are juggling responsibilities for their own children and their aging parents at the same time.

The analysis, commissioned by two companies, Christian Companion Senior Care and Presto Services Inc., both selling services to this group, found that 53 percent of those in the sandwich generation feel forced to choose ”” at least once a week ”” between being there for their children or being there for their ailing parents. One in five say they make that painful choice every single day.

So what’s a double-duty caregiver to do? We asked that question of Jeannie Keenan, a registered nurse and vice president at My Health Care Manager in Indianapolis. The company is one of a growing number of for-profit companies that provide case managers to families caught in this thicket. It does not employ home care aides or other care providers but, rather, hooks clients up to available services through a national network of affiliates.

Ms. Keenan said that the biggest mistake adult children make in this situation is trying to segregate their dual responsibilities.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

2 comments on “Jane Gross: How to Make a Better Sandwich

  1. MargaretG says:

    As a sandwich mother/daughter for three long years with four children and a mother with alzheimers, I think the article is a bit glib. Yes you can find someone to do something on an odd occasion — but getting someone to feed either the children or the parent EVERY DAY is another matter altogether.

    I did not find any way of feeling I did an adequate job at all times to all people, but I also think my children learnt alot from having to think of Grandma as well as their own concerns. Having said that I have not missed being the meat in the sandwich since my mother’s death — though I miss her dreadfully.

  2. BlueOntario says:

    As MargaretG notes, it’s the daily demand that is wearing. I personally dread going away with my family because it takes a week or more to set up an ad hoc support network to see to my parent’s well being and needs. When I return it’s another week of resetting the routine for her and dealing with the reports from my helpers of what I should be doing for my parent that I’m not. The full article and the responses on the NYT’s site are worth reading.