The Sandwich Generation
My dad is 82 years old. He’s always been healthy, active, and proud of his youthful good looks. He lives in an “over 55” community and he’s happy to be the go-to guy whenever anyone needs assistance. He works out in the gym there, and often coaches the other residents with their weight lifting. The golf course is his backyard, and he walks it every day, sometimes for a game and sometimes just to meet up with friends and shoot the breeze. Saturday nights are reserved for the community dances, and he has a lovely partner in his girlfriend Joyce. Life in retirement was about as good as it gets for my dad – until about 3 weeks ago when he had a stroke. Now, this suave and savvy senior citizen is in an acute rehabilitation facility. He’s sad, and vulnerable, and struggling to get back to his former self. His left side was compromised, he’s lost a lot of mobility, some hearing, and short term memory. It is difficult to see him like this. I know that 82 is “old” and this is to be expected at this age – but it’s just so unlike the dad I’ve known my whole life. He tried to pretend that he’s all right – he even jokes that he’s “all right” with the loss of his left side – but we know better. We can see it in his face. He’s scared. And I don’t blame him. My brother and sister and I have been looking at assisted living facilities for my dad. It’s hard to take him away from Leisure Village, a place he loves so much, but he needs more care. He just can’t live on his own anymore. I know that wherever he goes he’ll make friends fast – that’s just the way he is. But it’s a big change for all of us. And now I have entered the ranks of the sandwich generation – those who are caring for their children and their parents at the same time. I know that somehow everything will be okay. I love my dad so much and I just want him to be happy, and comfortable. He’s a great guy, and as scary as this all is, he’s taking it really well.