The Sandwich Generation: Struggling To Care For Family Members
Six years ago Jack and Frances MacDougall felt stressed out and sandwiched between the responsibilities of caring for an elderly parent and raising two children.
Jack’s father Dick had Alzheimer’s. Given his dementia and medical needs, they felt having Dick live with them was the best option, but they found it very stressful in the beginning. Jack was working full-time, Frances was going through a career change and they had one child still in elementary school. They struggled for months trying to find the best way to support Dick.
“Dick would wake us in the middle of the night because he didn’t know where he was,” said Frances. “He wouldn’t shower or change his clothes, he’d go for walks and get lost and he had lots of medical appointments and treatments because of his lymphoma.”
Frances is one of over 3,000 people who filled out the BC Council for Families’ Let’s Talk Families BC! survey in the summer of 2014. Like 22% of survey respondents, Frances found caring for family members a challenge.
“There is no safety net for seniors or enough support for the families who care for them,” said Frances. “Families are left to search for answers on their own. Not everyone has the scope and ability to do that.”
Caring for Dick became easier after Frances and Jack took a weekend workshop on Alzheimer’s, and fortunately Jack’s work was supportive and allowed him to take time off to take Dick to his medical appointments. The experience, however, made Frances realize that there should be a stronger support system to help families like hers, and to help people at the end of their lives live, and die, in dignity.
If you have felt stressed or sandwiched caring for aging family members and children, we’d love to hear your story. Share your comments below.