We have all heard of the “sandwich generation” – those middle-aged adults who are still caring for their own children and also an aging parent. Well, here is an emerging trend that I will call the Triple Decker Sandwich generation: Baby Boomers who help care for aging parents, who still have children at home of their own, and who find themselves also taking on full time care of their small grandchildren. Yes, that is a sandwich of an entirely different kind. That is a Triple Decker.
Pew Social Trends (2013) revealed that many adults in their 30s and 40s were caring for ailing older parents and also providing some type of financial support for grown children. This resulted in reports from the sandwich generation in feeling in a hurry, rushed, and not having enough time for all of their expected duties. Now, add to those statistics another emerging trend: grandparents caring for grandchildren. I am not referring to the occasional or even regular hour babysitting or childcare that loving grandparents provide. Instead, this is the 24/7 responsibility for grandchildren who live with them, or whom they have adopted. The 2015 Profile of Older Americans from the Agency on Aging found that “in 2014, about 554,579 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them”. Now, please note that this is only those grandparents aged 65 an over. What about all the others in their 50s and early 60s doing the same? I imagine that each person reading this can think of at least one or two grandparents who are raising small grandchildren. The implications of this on the health of aging persons is enormous. So, here are some tips to survive the Triple Decker Sandwich generation.
If you have this many people in your life to care for, you must pace yourself. Avoid the temptation to give 100% all the time. It isn’t possible. Something in your life will suffer – and often this is your own health. Think of this task of caring for multiple generations as running a marathon. Develop skills, train, get into a good rhythm that you can maintain for the long haul.
You might have been able to juggle 4 kids and a job when you were in your late 20s or early 30s, but maybe now you are in your 50s with aging parents, teenagers, and a grandbaby to care for. Flexibility is a key to success. You just can’t do everything the same way if you are caring for small children again. Decide what is most important. Set reasonable and attainable goals. Make small goals for each day and celebrate those accomplishments.
Even if you were used to being able to do it all yourself when you were younger, the amount of care that a Triple Decker generation person takes on requires some help at times. Let your adult children watch that baby to give you a break. Let the teens in the house help with the childcare. It is a good time for them to learn these skills for when they are parents. Tag team with your spouse to share the burden if you have a little one in the home. Church friends are happy to help if you need a night out.
Take time to rejuvenate
Being part of a Triple Decker sandwich is tough. Take time to rejuvenate to avoid burnout. You can’t care for anyone if you become ill or incapacitated yourself. For each person, renewal comes in different forms. For men, this might mean playing a sport or watching games on TV without interruption, or having a quiet private place in the house that is off limits from the noise of the household. For moms, this might be shopping alone or getting a manicure or pedicure. Sometimes talking on the phone, or meeting with friends for lunch provides a needed break. Know what you personally need to recharge and refocus and then allow yourself this (without guilt) on a regular basis. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change how you deal with them.
Don’t expect too much
Chances are, if you find yourself in the Triple Decker mode, you are aging yourself. You can remember how you balanced work, life, kids, and higher education by yourself years ago. Now you wonder how you did it all. Well, you were 20 or 30 years younger then, so cut yourself some slack. Be sure to get enough sleep. Take breaks as needed. Exercise and eat right. Cut out the unnecessary things you did before to fill time and focus on those priorities that you set, without neglecting your own health.
Triple Decker Sandwich persons are tough and resilient. Congratulate yourself that you have been able to make it all work and care for your many loved ones. You sacrifice many things such as an easy and comfortable retirement and the ability to travel. But, you have given a great gift to those you love by sharing your care for them. In the end when you reflect back on your life accomplishments, you might very well find that this was one of the greatest.
In a world where technology seems to pervade every aspect of our lives, we take a look at how technology can make a positive contribution to care and making the lives of your loved ones easier and more dignified in later life.
Many people will be familiar with the term ‘Aids To Daily Living’. This simply describes a category of products that do exactly what the term implies. Usually associated with smaller products that help in the home or the garden, these products are at the forefront in the push for technological breakthroughs as manufacturers look for the next big seller!
This relentless drive has meant that the Living Aids sector has grown massively from just a few lines of products in the early eighties, to quite literally thousands of product lines and growing today.
Examples of some Daily Living Aids include easy grip cutlery; can and bottle openers, long handled tools, the list is almost endless and there are new innovations being developed daily.
Technology has pushed the advancement of lightweight materials including new plastics, metals alloys and electronic components that have revolutionised many products. A good example of this is the walking stick, formerly made of cane in a one-size-fits-all configuration; the walking stick now has many types, materials, colours and setting options. Many of the enhancements have been borrowed from the world of high end sport, F1, military and even space!
Further evidence of this technological boundary breaking has been in the field of medical prosthetics where both mechanical engineering and state of the art electronics mean that disabled people are now receiving much greater movement options as bio and electronic systems become ever more intertwined.
The care sector has always been hungry for new technology, as most readers will be aware it is the smaller sometimes mundane tasks that affect our loved ones and that require specialist products that can help. The search for these products can be challenging but the internet can be a valuable resource to locate Daily Living Aids that can be most useful.
It is usually a good idea to start with the problem when looking for new products, i.e. ‘problems reaching high shelves’ – searches like this will often bring up some product based results and technology based answers. Another good resource is forums where new technology is discussed and you can canvas the experience of other product users.
A greater range of Daily Living Aids products can mean more independence as more tasks become available through the tools available. It can make a big difference to self-esteem as the person can continue to feel they can perform ordinary tasks, albeit with a little help in the right direction, and sometimes a little push to get them to adopt something new!
As with all technology, it will continue and this will mean that in the future we can look through to even more discoveries that can contribute to increased mobility and independent living of our loved ones; this can only be a good thing and is a great example of using technology in a positive way, for the benefit of all.
If you suffer from a severe form of ankle osteoarthritis, you may be curious about the benefits of a total ankle replacement surgery.
Total ankle replacements can be common. In fact, surgeons perform thousands of them each year.
This surgery can be quite effective and can significantly improve your quality of life. But, if you’re considering it, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Listed below are four essential things seniors need to know before undergoing a total ankle replacement surgery.
1. The Ideal Candidate for an Ankle Replacement
Surgeons typically prefer to perform ankle replacements on patients who are older and less active.
This is because an ankle replacement usually is not as durable as a hip or knee replacement. Because younger patients tend to be more active, there’s a greater chance of them putting too much strain on the new joint.
2. Recovery Takes a While
After your surgery, you’ll likely only need to spend one night in the hospital recovering.
Once you return to your home, you’ll have to rest for 4-6 weeks before you try to move around on your new ankle joint. It also takes about three months of physical therapy for your ankle to fully heal.
3. You’ll Need to Use Mobility Aids
While you’re recovering, you’ll need to rely on mobility aids to help you get around without putting any strain on your ankle.
In the beginning, your doctor will likely recommend using crutches and wearing a boot to stabilize your ankle. You may also be able to use a knee walker scooter as an alternative to crutches if you prefer.
4. Most People are Satisfied with Their Results
Ankle replacement surgery is a relatively new procedure compared to knee and hip replacements.
They may not be as stable as their counterparts, but ankle replacements tend to yield very high patient satisfaction ratings. In fact, research shows that 90 percent of patients were satisfied with the results of their surgery within the first four years.
As you can see, there are some important factors to take into account before deciding if a total ankle replacement is right for you.
But, if you seem like an ideal candidate and are okay with a few months of downtime post-surgery, you’ll likely be very satisfied with the end result.
A Profile of Older Americans (2012) revealed that over 480,000 grandparents had primary parenting responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them. AARP cited that over 2.5 million grandparents are helping with the responsibility of raising their grandchildren, and 7.8 million children live in homes owned by their grandparents. These statistics represent a growing trend in American culture.
I have several friends who have raised or are raising their grandchildren in their own home. Some have formally adopted their grandchildren. Others share parenting responsibilities with one or both parents. All of them share the common feeling that this is a blessing, not a burden, but that raising grandchildren in later life does have its challenges.
Whatever the circumstances that brought grandchildren into the home of their grandparents to be raised, it can come as a shock to the older adults who find themselves in this situation.
Here are some beginning considerations to raising your grandchildren in your own home.
Impact of aging
Older adults who are assuming primary responsibility for children should “cut themselves some slack”. Don’t feel that you have to do everything as if you were a first-time parent in your 20’s. Remember that you may be parenting, but your body knows that you are still a grandparent. You may have to limit the children’s activities because keeping up with the driving and multiple schedules is too difficult. The good news is that many grandparents in this situation are retired, so both Grandma and Grandpa can help with the kids. This teamwork might not have been possible with your own children because one or both of you were working, but now you can share the duties such as driving kids to school or sports practices, helping with homework, and taking them to doctor appointments. If the children are school age, allow yourself extra time to rest and relax during the day so that after school you have the energy required for these new-again activities with the grandkids. If needed, enlist the help of other family members or friends to help by giving you a break on occasion. Keep in mind that maintaining your own health is especially important if you have young ones depending on you.
Expenses and Education
Many older adults are on a fixed income and may not have planned to care for grandchildren. Your financial plan for retirement might need an overhaul with additional family members in the household. Several organizations have worked cooperatively to compile resources for grandparents in this situation. National and state fact sheets have been developed to link grandparents with key resources in their area. You can find out about resources available to help you at http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/grandfacts-sheets/ .These helpful fact sheets list local programs, public benefits, key state laws, and contact information for national resources. There may be funding or tax breaks to help with living or educational expenses.
Records and immunizations
It’s important to keep important documents together in one safe place. This includes birth certificates, legal papers, report cards, baptismal papers etc… Keeping a log or journal of important events is also a good strategy, especially when caring for multiple children. There are a number of immunizations for children today that were not available or required when you parented your own children. Immunizations are often free at your county health department, but can be very expensive at the doctor’s office. The health department can tell you what your child needs and when, and will help you by providing an immunization record that will need to be kept up for school. The CDC has a helpful chart of recommended immunizations for birth to 6 years that can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf A summary of vaccinations for birth to age 18 can be found at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2010.pdf
Enjoy your Grand Family
Despite the obvious challenges of raising grandchildren in your older years, most grandparents describe the many joys that come with this new adventure. Grandparents share a special bond with their grandchildren, and when sharing a home together, that bond can be strengthened. Grandparents can share the wisdom of their experience with this younger generation and have the opportunity to shape their lives for the better. If you are new to this second round of parenting, AARP offers a helpful guide with tips to GrandFamilies, as they call them. These can be found at Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend
It is never too late to adopt a healthy aging routine into your everyday life. Healthy aging isn’t necessarily about looking or feeling younger, but rather optimizing opportunities for overall good health. Making a simple skincare switch, keeping a balanced diet and getting at least 8 hours of sleep are simple things that can make you feel more energized and give your outer appearance a natural glow. To begin your anti-aging regimen on a positive note, check out these tips for some inspiration!
Changing your skin care routine may seem like a daunting task at first. It’s difficult to break from the products you have used for a long time, but once you establish a new routine that works for you, you will see the benefits in a short amount of time. Skin hydration, regeneration, and protection are all essential for seniors. Without these, and the use of an exfoliator weekly, your entire body, will lack smoothness and shine from the accumulation of dry or dead skin.
Remember, skin care isn’t only about facial products. It’s essential to moisturize your arms, hands, legs, and feet too!
Various diseases and illnesses form as a result of inadequate or unbalanced nutrition and poor dieting. Once you reach a certain age, it is critical that you eat more fruits and vegetables to prevent illness and nutritional deficiencies. Substitute processed foods for whole foods to ensure your body is receiving the nutrients necessary for a healthy life. According to the USDA, foods that are high in antioxidants (high Orac) can protect cells from oxidative damage. Kale, spinach, blueberries, and blackberries are all great options! Try implementing a few of these high Orac foods listed below into your diet to slow aging down: Visit here for more information.
Vitamins and Supplements
Many seniors rule out food they aren’t willing to consume depending on their current health status or personal dislikes. Their pallets are fully developed, and for the most part, they aren’t in the mindset to try new foods. However, avoiding certain foods can result in a lack of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins that aid in preventing deficiencies and diseases. Take vitamins such as calcium and zinc to help boost brain power, along with Vitamin E, B3 and B5 help support skin elasticity. Furthermore, don’t leave out supplements that can help cellular health such as probiotics and products like Basis by Elysium Health.
Sleep may come easier to some more than others. It is important to know that disrupting your circadian rhythm with poor rest can lead to metabolic disorders. Many seniors have insomnia which limits their hours of sleep. Exercise, sticking to a sleep schedule and establishing a bedtime routine can help aid seniors in gaining the rest they need at night or throughout the day.
Remember, it is never too late to make improvements to your current routine, especially if it will benefit you in the long run. Take the time to appreciate your body and embrace the natural process!
Constipation is the most common bowel problem in older adults. The definition varies by patients and health care providers, but generally it means less frequent bowel movements than usual, and those which are hard, dry, and difficult to pass. Constipation is a preventable and treatable problem. Changes that occur with normal aging, such as peristalsis in the gut slowing down or decreased physical activity, predispose older persons to constipation.
Risk Factors/Warning Signs
Constipation is often due to a combination of causes. Some of the risk factors include decreased activity, medications (such as certain pain pills, iron supplements, and calcium supplements), depression, neurological conditions (dementia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, and spinal cord injury), dehydration, low dietary fiber, metabolic disturbances (such as hypothyroidism), undergoing dialysis, obstruction, and decreased access to the toilet (Halter et al., 2009). The range of “normal” for bowel movements is three times per day to three times per week. A decrease in number of stools that is “normal” for the person and the occurrence of hard, dry stools that are difficult to expel are typical signs of constipation.
If constipation is severe enough for the person to seek medical care, the patient may complain of abdominal pain and even have symptoms similar to other problems such as an appendicitis or diverticulitis. These more serious ailments can be ruled out through x-rays, CT scan or MRI. The diagnosis is based on clinical presentation, history, and physical examination. It is important to determine the onset and duration of the constipation, along with functional and nutritional status.
Before starting a bowel program to prevent constipation, the existing problem should be dealt with. A physician may prescribe laxatives, suppositories, and/or enemas to get the stool moving and eliminated. Many such products can be obtained over the counter as home remedies, but severe and recurrent problems should be referred to the primary care provider for further examination of the cause. After starting with a clean bowel, interventions should focus on lifestyle and dietary modifications. All natural means should be tried first before adding medication to the regimen. This includes regular exercise, establishment of a regular routine for toileting (assure privacy), and encouragement of a high-fiber diet with adequate fluid intake (unless contraindicated)(Joanna Briggs Institute, 2008). Medications may be considered for those who do not respond to lifestyle changes. Residents of nursing homes appear to respond to stimulant laxatives (e.g., senna, bisacodyl) or Miralax. Enemas should not be used on a regular basis because they promote lazy bowel function. Most older persons can avoid constipation if they remain active, have proper nutrition high in fiber, and drink plenty of fluids.
Adapted from Mauk, K. L., Hanson, P., & Hain, D. (2014). Review of the management of common illnesses, diseases, or health conditions. In K. L. Mauk’s (Ed.) Gerontological Nursing: Competencies for Care. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Used with permission.