The sandwich generation may be a spirited name for adults in their 40s and 50s with a parent aged 65 or older, but the struggle associated with it is very real. The sandwich generation is struggling physically and financially to care for their own family and aging parents at the same time. Although the sandwich generation reports being about as happy as anyone else in their peer group, they frequently cite time crunches and feeling rushed to get anything done, according to a Pew Research Center study.
The question isn't whether or not the sandwich generation wants to help out and care for their elderly loved ones, it's when to ask for more support and make the transition into assisted living. But is it the right option for your loved one? Here is how to know when assisted living is right for your parent.
First and foremost, the safety of your elderly loved one should take priority when making the decision about assisted living. Ask yourself if you feel like your loved one is safe and secure, if they have fallen recently, appear confused and in cognitive decline, or require ongoing assistance.
Now is the moment of truth. If you feel uneasy about any of the answers, you need to decide if at-home care on a part-time basis could resolve the issue or if your loved one needs around the clock care to ensure their safety.
Your loved one may not be in any immediate danger by living alone but could still need more support than they are getting. If you feel they just need someone to help monitor their situation and keep you in the loop, a mobile medical alert system can make all the difference in the world. A service such as Lively Mobile clips into a pocket or can be worn around your neck and comes with patented GPS, fall detection, and a fast agent response team from trained experts. Your loved one gets support and help when he or she needs it, and you have peace of mind that your aging family members are safe and always accounted for when they use their mobile medical alert device.
Whether you live around the corner or across the country, it's not always possible to check-in with your loved one and spend time together. But loneliness can make a big impact on your loved one's happiness and quality of life. If your elderly loved one craves interaction and connection, he or she can find built-in socialization opportunities in assisted living facilities. From group dining to card games, assisted living can provide the socialization your loved one craves.
According to research collected from United Methodist Homes (UMH), the average cost of all-inclusive assisted living is $3,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment with access to community amenities. However, in-home medical care runs $21 per hour and a home care aid costs about $19 per hour. The cost of multiple in-home visits, around the clock care, and ongoing bills including a mortgage can quickly topple even the healthiest of budgets. At some point, the financial scales tip dramatically and the cost of assisted living makes more sense than having someone come to your aging loved ones.
Focusing too much on your elderly loved ones is noble, but often means the caregiver's own needs gets lost in the process. According to a study on the challenges for family caregivers by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 40 percent of family caregivers provide an average of 23 hours a week supporting loved ones. But there's also the financial strain to consider. The average household income is $45,700 a year, making it difficult to factor in costs to help an aging family member without feeling a financial strain.
At some point, caregiver stress can catch-up to anyone and impact their own quality of life and ability to juggle it all. But needing extra help and the services found in assisted living does not mean they have failed at caregiving. It just means they need more support to help their aging loved one live the best life possible.
If you are struggling with figuring out if assisted living is the right option for your family or loved one, work through the checkpoints here and take a hard look at the reality of how much you can offer. Next, get in touch with a few assisted living facilities to take a tour and get more information. You may find that simply using tools, like checking in via Skype and FaceTime or using a mobile medical alert system, gives you the peace of mind you need. Or you may realize that the best place for your loved one to thrive and enjoy their golden years is with the support of assisted living.