If you google for a definition of the Sandwich Generation you will get a definition similar to this:
“A generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents.”
But, caring for aging parents can occur at any time in your life depending on their health and the age they were when you were born. You may have children or grandchildren that you want to stay connected and involved with during a time when you are called on to look out for aging parents.
I promised you a one idea approach to this dilemma and here it is— FOSTER INDEPENDENCE.
As a nurse, I was taught that after anyone suffered a health crisis, the goal was to get them back to independent living as quickly as possible. Depending on the severity of the crisis, they may need some short term care but the goal for every day was to give back to them everything they could reasonably do for themselves until they were able to go back to their normal behaviors of self-care.
The one sub-goal that is implied here is also quality of life. There are so many things that individuals can be taught to incorporate into their lives so that even if their life cannot return completely to normal due to limitations of age, they can still have a good quality of life and find joy in living. Tools such as canes, walkers, handles applied in strategic places, tools to open cans, can help maintain quality of life.
There are factors that may figure into not reaching the goal of a return to independent living.
- The caregiver may enjoy their control over an individual and not ensure they are allowing the person to do all they can for themselves.
- There are the rewards of caregiving that a caregiver may not want to give up such as receiving the accolades associated with stepping in to help someone else.
- The incapacitated person may enjoy being taken care of and not want to take back responsibility for themselves. They instead enjoy the “vacation” they get while being laid up.
- Attention seeking behavior can come from either party in the situation and other involved individuals.
- The person that is being taken care of may choose not to follow the routines set up by medical personnel such as a change in diet, exercise, taking physical therapy to improve mobility, taking medication as ordered, and researching their own information about their health problems and how to improve themselves.
A wise caretaker will then set up boundaries.
- If a person refuses to take the steps needed to improve their health and take back responsibility for their habits of daily living when you know they can do it, then it becomes necessary to step away and force them back to normal routines. (And hope that no one else takes over the role, otherwise, they may never return to normal.)
- If someone is using your time for things they can do for themselves, step away. You only have so much time in your day and God has given you a path to follow that has been interrupted. We are all supposed to help each other when it is necessary, but when the crisis is over, everyone involved should have a quick return to normal life.
- Other family and friend relationships suffer when you are called to spend an inordinate amount of time on one person and boundaries must be applied to be able to get back to your other relationships and responsibilities.
God has given all of us freedom of choice. That freedom should be used to be as productive for God each day, as is possible for you, depending on your level of health.
This freedom should also include applying Biblical disciplines for yourself and for dealing with others.
- The discipline of rising early.
- Reading your Bible so that you will do what it says.
- Not making excuses for being lazy.
- Working hard as unto the LORD.
- Using your gifts.
- Treating others fairly.
- Honoring your parents.
- Respecting others.
- Learning to reflect Christ in your responses to others.
- And developing a strong prayer life.
Of course there are many others, this is just a small sample of the disciplines we should live by and encourage others to do the same.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV
In a perfect world, everyone would always be trying to do what is right at any given moment.
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7 ESV
If you are a caretaker for someone, I would love to hear how you have learned to incorporate the care for someone else into your life while taking care of your other God given responsibilities. Please feel free to comment below:)
Great post! I think fostering independence is key to helping someone get “back on their feet”, whatever that may look like. I appreciate when people help me in a crisis as much as the next person, but I feel more empowered to face life’s challenges if I’m figuring out a solution thru prayer and dependence on the Lord.
You hit the nail on the head, Allison. Our ultimate goal absolutely should be—— to find our “solutions thru prayer and dependence on the Lord.”
Great post, Jane. So thankful you gave wonderful suggestions and insights into an issue so many people deal with.
Thanks for your support, Joni. It is much appreciated:)
What a wonderful post Jane. You’ve described a tough situation. I guess that is why it is often referred to a “tough love.” I believe it is tough on the one loving and the one being loved back into independence.
Thanks, Tim. Yes, when any of us are not doing the right thing, it causes great problems. And the only way we can do the right thing is to strengthen ourselves spiritually by cutting out time to stay in God’s Word and apply it to ourselves.