Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

/Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog

Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.

The Sandwich Generation: Make it a Triple Decker!

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.

Pace yourself

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.

Set priorities

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.

Accept help

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.

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By |2019-08-04T15:02:27-05:00August 7th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on The Sandwich Generation: Make it a Triple Decker!

Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors

Today’s technology is not only for the young. The digital age has brought with it innovations which aim to benefit seniors. A new age of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made senior care better, more efficient and less costly. It aims to eliminate isolation, which has been a major concern for many years. It has provided caregivers in the healthcare industry a tool to allow seniors to be more independent and remain connected with friends and family.

When it comes to senior care, the IoT is revolutionizing the way seniors are living their lives. Assisted living communities are using the internet to connect and humanize senior care. Communities such as the K4Community leverage technology to make seniors’ life simpler, healthier and happier. These communities integrate IoT wearables such as watches or belt clips. They also have floor sensors that provide real-time monitoring to prevent falls and other injuries. Other types of sensors monitor heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels to immediately alert caregivers when there’s an emergency.

To lead a healthy, active lifestyle, IoT devices go beyond the standard activity trackers. Devices are more targeted towards the individual’s needs, alerting them when to rest, whether they’re standing up or down too fast and when to give their knees a break. Food and hydration is also considered, with wearables reminding seniors when it’s time to eat and how often to drink to maintain proper hydration. When it comes to sleep, sensors can also alert caregivers whether a senior needs help getting in and out of bed. With the internet being all about connection, keeping seniors in contact with friends and family is one of the best things the IoT can provide to improve senior health. Seniors are spending more time online, using social networks and other platforms to connect with loved ones.

This trend is only going to get more prevalent. Research shows that using the internet makes people happier and increases life satisfaction, especially for seniors. A study published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior shows that life satisfaction was much higher among seniors who use the internet than those who don’t. The ability to keep in touch and prevent the cycle of loneliness and isolation in an advanced age has done more for senior health than any medication. It is no wonder then that internet use among seniors rose from 8% to 34% between 2003 and 2012, as cited by the Journalist’s Resource. The empowerment that the internet and technology have given seniors is invaluable to their health. Such developments revolutionized the way society and healthcare providers care for the elderly.

With Baby Boomers contributing to an increasingly aging population, the need for caregivers and connected assisted living communities is becoming greater than ever. In order to provide quality healthcare to seniors, healthcare is not just about technology but also about the people who provide it. Maryville University details how general healthcare workers can specialize in senior services to provide care for an aging population. Healthcare and senior care are becoming two of the fastest-growing industries. Boosted with the aid of technology and IoT devices, they provide a way to create a better quality of life for seniors, while reducing the costs of healthcare at the same time.

Article submitted by Tanya Olivers

By |2019-07-30T14:42:04-05:00August 5th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors

Guest blog: Giving Condolences to Relatives

3D word Why with question mark.

Guest Blog: Suzie Kolber

Giving Condolences to Relatives: When You Don’t Know What to Say

Many people feel uncomfortable in expressing condolences to a relative when that person loses someone. They don’t know what to say and are often afraid of saying the wrong thing. Here are some tips to help you the next time you are in that situation.

Be Sincere

Don’t try to come up with the “right words.” Instead, just focus on being sincere. Even a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” has great meaning when it comes from the heart. If you are close to the grieving person, you can offer more words of encouragement but don’t feel that you must. If they are a distant relative, just a short note is plenty to show your condolences.

Write It Down

Another worry for many people is that they will call or stop by at the wrong time. Since dealing with all of the issues surrounding a person’s death can leave the person overwhelmed and busy, a written note or email may be more appropriate at this time. You can wait until later to make a visit or phone call. In fact, it may be more timely then when they don’t have as much support.

Offer to Help

If you are in a position and at a close distance to help, feel free to extend the offer. Instead of a generic “let me know if I can help,” it is often appreciated if you give tangible suggestions. Since the person is probably feeling overwhelmed, he or she may not know what is needed. Here are some ideas on ways you could offer to help.

  • Stopping by the grocery to pick up food
  • Bringing over a dish
  • Taking pets for a walk
  • Taking the kids out for a few hours
  • Checking on the house if the person will be gone
  • Inviting the person to a support group
  • Inviting the person for lunch

Your offers of help don’t have to just be for the first few days after the loved one’s death. Many times, support is needed for several weeks or even months while the person is still grieving the loss. In fact, your support may be even more appreciated then.

What Not to Do

There are some things you should avoid in your wish to offer condolences to a family member. The main thing to know is to respect the other person’s beliefs. They may have different convictions and ideas about death, especially if they are of a different religion or background than you. If you are not sure of their beliefs, try to avoid comments and expressions that include that sentiment.

Don’t be upset if you don’t hear back from the person right away. It may take some time for them to get back to you in response to your offers of help and condolences. Know that they appreciate any concern you express even if they don’t respond.

Supporting family members through a loss of a loved one can be difficult, but don’t be afraid to reach out. Any sincere expression will be appreciated if given in the right attitude.

Suzie Kolber is a writer at http://obituarieshelp.org/words_of_condolences_hub.html . The site is a complete guide for someone seeking help for sympathy messages, condolence letters and funeral planning resources.

By |2019-08-04T15:01:45-05:00August 5th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest blog: Giving Condolences to Relatives

Guest Blog: How to Take Care of Elders Who Are Living Alone: 4 Important Tips

 

 

Do you feel that your elders are not safe in their house anymore? Of late, you may be noticing that their house is always in a mess, or that they are not grooming regularly. It is apparent that they are skipping meals and medications. It is all too frightening to see the people who brought you up becoming so helpless and careless in their old age. It is not their fault, but now it is your responsibility to take care of them.

We have put together some tips that will help you plan long term care for your loved ones when you feel they are getting too old to take care of themselves:

 

 

1. Confront Your Elders: Sit with them and inquire about the problems they may be facing. Is it an untreated chronic pain that has worsened over time, rendering them unable to do simple tasks that they had no problems executing previously? Is it a loss of a loved one they are mourning? Are they feeling marooned from the rest of their family? Isolation or lack of support can be a major recipe for depression.

2. Express Your Concerns: Sometimes elders feel that they have become a burden on their family. This is why they stop sharing their problems. Maybe if you express your concerns, they will honestly tell you what is troubling them.

3. Respect Their Independence: Unless your elders are not completely disabled, they have the right to make their own decisions. If you think something is right for them, let them know about it in an open-ended way. Never impose anything on them.

4. Keep External Help Handy: You might be confident about your situation-handling capabilities, but it is a good idea to keep home care providers, doctors, and geriatric care managers in the loop. Also, you might consider making your elders meet other people who have used home care services before. Hearing unbiased feedback might remove their fear of the unknown.

Old age is the onset of childhood. Even though we tend to ignore our elders as they age, we should realize that, with age, they need greater affection and care. If you are not able to take care of your elders due to responsibilities and work pressure, taking in professional help is a viable option.

 

By |2019-08-02T09:15:09-05:00August 2nd, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Take Care of Elders Who Are Living Alone: 4 Important Tips

Guest Blog: When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

On a list of the greatest fears many seniors have, failing health, hearing loss, and falling often rise to the top. One major fear that few actually talk to their families and doctors about though is losing the ability to drive. In fact, a new AAA study found that over 80 percent of older drivers never discuss their safe driving ability at all with their care networks or medical professionals.

For many seniors, driving is the hallmark characteristic that defines independence. Being able to drive allows seniors to travel, to run their own errands, to get out of their house and socialize. Losing that ability to drive doesn’t just strip those things away, but it also requires seniors to ask for help and coordinate transportation, all of which can leave them feeling like a burden on their caregivers.

What is the danger then? Well not only do older drivers who have outlived their ability to safely drive a vehicle endanger their passengers and other drivers on the road, they put themselves at increased risk for injury and even death. Because older adults typically have more fragile bones and higher rates of chronic illness that can complicate an injury recovery, they are more likely to get hurt or even die in a car crash than younger adults.

Talking About Driving with Your Aging Parent

The bottom line is that simply conducting a dialogue about driving doesn’t mean a senior will lose their license or be held back from driving. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Just as using a cane for walking empowers a senior with mobility limitations to keep moving, talking about safe driving can empower seniors to take helpful steps that keep them safe on the road.

For example, the Senior Driving division of AAA offers loads of helpful resources, tools, and information that connect seniors with local refresher courses on defensive road wise driving, help them understand how medicine can affect safe driving, and much more.

If you need to have a conversation with your aging parent about safe driving, experts recommend approaching it from a place of compassion and empathy. Instead of accusing them of being an unsafe driver, confess the concerns you feel about their safety on the road and ask them about their own perspective. Discuss helpful driving tools, safe driving refresher classes, and even consider attending a senior driving expo together.

By |2019-07-30T14:40:09-05:00July 30th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: When Should Seniors Stop Driving?