Why has it become so overwhelming to become a caregiver? Is it a financial trend? A social trend? Medical trend?

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I am amazed at the amount of posts from persons in the "sandwich generation" and/or persons who have an "empty nest" but never really get the chance to see it empty so that they have some time in their lives before they are elders themselves to focus only on living solely for their needs and plans. It seems as if we are taking care of children; then before the kids are "launched" we are already taking care of elder family-member's needs. Are folks just living that much longer so that the issues of age happen and they need help beyond what medical and social programs can provide?

I feel like I'm going to be old myself and not fully ready to take care of my elder years because I haven't had the time to do what I needed to do for myself. Job, financial planning, further education to keep up with trends, etc. I've still got a minor at home and an almost 90 year old parent who I have to take care of. She always has been challenging and needy. I've finally got my kids out of diapers and I already see the "diaper years" happening for the parent and it's my job to take care of it. This is blunt, but it's the only way I can see to describe it. In my adult years I've seen the trend of extra rules and policy put into place that often supersede the common sense approach to just setting ground rules to live by. I have had to provide extra safety measures for both generations, make sure they are where they need to be and getting what society mandates -- often when the "didn't wanna" and all I get is a suggestion to do "time out" (which I have to oversee) if they "don't wanna."

I've seen so many posts on this site from folks who are tired and frustrated. The ones like me who had less-than-stellar parents are especially frustrated because we wanted a little respite after we got out on our own.

Is this the largest sandwich generation ever? Is it the most complicated sandwich-generation ever? It seems to be. Thoughts?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Here are my thoughts on this, totally unsubstantiated by research or education so keep that in mind.

My great grandparents lived til they were in their 90's, healthy til the end, worked their farm and took care of themselves just fine.
My grandparents lived well into their 80's without outside care or medical intervention, I have one biological grandparent that is in his late 90's still living a healthy active lifestyle.
I have a thought as I look at the generations in my own family and families of my close friends get sick earlier that the reason for decline is 100% what we put in our bodies.
Everything we eat or drink has been injected, altered or infused one way or another with some medicine or chemical that hasn't been studied for long term effects on humans, even the "farmers' market" vegetables I buy in an effort to keep chemicals out of our bodies are genetically altered at the seed stage. A farmer said he didn't use pesticides on his crops so I asked how he controlled the well being of his crops, he said that all seeds now have the pesticides inside the seed so it is emitted from the crop itself, not needing external pesticides which allow farmers to make the claim "organic, no pesticides used". I certainly appreciated his honesty and was floored at the same time. My husband and I are in our 50's and have decided to go back to planting our own 1/4 acre garden again and getting seeds from older family farms where seeds haven't been altered.
Just my thoughts, older generations didn't drink sodas, chemically cleaned "city water" or chemical laden fruit juices. The meat and eggs weren't injected/infused and the beneficial factors weren't processed out of them. Everything they ate or drank......they made. I remember my Maw and Paw (GGParents) getting a burn or cut and they'd get the jar of honey they got from their own beehives and put honey on wound, then put a clean muslin cloth on it, there was no antibiotic cream or pill involved as honey is a natural barrier and a great alternative. THOSE are the things that kept older generations alive longer....more importantly healthy, active....at least in my thoughts.
This is the largest sandwich generation ever and it is the most complicated sandwich-generation ever?

There have always been people like treatmenttime's grandparents and greatgrandparents who lived into their 80s and 90s. In the past, many -- perhaps most -- who survived that long were healthy and robust, because the ones who weren't died younger. We now have the science to keep people alive when they have chronic conditions, so "weaker" people are also living into their 80s and 90s.

I don't doubt that there are also many environmental factors at work. But fundamentally we have more caregiving issues because we have more people living to ages where they need care and many of them are living with chronic conditions that would have killed earlier generations at a much earlier age.
I agree with treatmenttime. A lot has to do with so many chemicals we ingest nowadays. But I also think that there is a difference with the medical field. So many things are done to prolong life. The different kinds of surgery, medicine (chemical) treatments and organ transplants to name a few. I'm barely 50 and I have seen this trend with the medical field for awhile. I don't agree with it all, personally. I agree with taking care of our bodies the best way we can with eating right (which can be hard to do with almost everything being with chemicals) and exercising. Personally, and not by religious choices, I don't believe in organ donation for myself. Great for other people but not fo me. So many things nowadays prolong life. I don't want that. I want to live for as long as I'm meant to without having to take tons of medicine or organ donations. After seeing my mom living with Alz. and caring for her, which she is a sweetheart and not a burden, I don't want to prolong my life with serious illness(es). And have to have family care for me. I don't want to be a burden. I do, however, want to live my life to its fullest while I still can.
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There is one other factor here, I think, and that is the Internet! Perhaps those who have taken care of elderly relatives with serious conditions and/or dementia have always felt overwhelmed. There weren't as many of them in the past, and they may have been fairly isolated. Only their close friends (and maybe not only them) knew what they were going through.

Now we can read about how overwhelmed someone we've never met and who lives half way around the world from us feels. It is wonderful to overcome the isolation. I'm not suggesting that this is a bad thing. But it puts a spotlight on a situation that may have been more hidden before.
Yes, I agree with Jeannegibbs. There are copious amounts of information we consume. The media dumps it on us constantly: what we should be worried about, what is the latest thing to cause cancer, how the Baby Boomers are Overwhelmed being Caregivers, etc.
With the trend toward "talking about everything"-- which we do here a lot-- perhaps we have gotten used to complaining and whining too much instead of just accepting and doing what has been done before. When I think about it, I feel embarrassed.
Caregiving is tough, and it is awful when people do not plan for their old age financially, putting burden on their children or others. Of course, stuff happens, the unexpected happens--like financial catastrophes, accidents, chronic illness--and what do we do? We just have to accept "That's the way it is", and deal with it the best we can. I think we have it better in America than anywhere else, but each life situation is unique, and hopefully, each becomes equipped to handle it.

In my case, I still had a daughter and grandson at home when my mother moved in due to health reasons, so the only time I have actually had an empty nest is when my mother has either been in the hospital or at a SNF (my daughter has since married and moved out) Prior to & right after my mom moving in, I was going to school for medical billing & coding with the plan of getting a job & helping to build our retirement fund. I had been a stay at home Mom, then worked at home doing paperwork for our contracting business, so I haven't been out working in the "real world" in YEARS and I was so excited to start that new career path. Boom. So much for THAT plan now - I can't leave my mom at home for more than a couple of hours, so working outside of the home is not possible, and we can't afford to hire someone to care for her. Plan #2 was to get a job coding from home, but (of course) everyone wants people with 2-3 years experience, so there's another door slammed on me. I have applied for IHSS so I can get paid for staying home with her, but that has been a long and frustrating process....still waiting there. My husband is patient, but keeps reminding me that the clock is ticking on our own retirement and I feel stuck in the middle. I want to be here for my Mom on the one hand, but on the other....ugh. I didn't have the best relationship with my Mom while growing up so having a lot of those issues resurface now that she is living in my home (that I thought I was rid of when I moved out of hers) has been extremely difficult. She is constantly trying to make us conform to HER way of running a household by criticizing everything we do and yelling at my grandkids to "be quiet" whenever they come over, so it's overwhelming on a number of fronts for me.
I know caregiving for elderly relatives has always gone on, and it is unfortunate that those who were isolated back in the day without the internet did not have somewhere to vent. Venting is good - personally, I don't consider it whining at all. At least there are many on this forum who can relate to the trials and tribulations of another and try to help in some way with understanding, advice or simply listening.

One thing I've noticed is a quite a bit of is the elderly who take their children's caregiving for granted and make their lives miserable. Some of the elderly will never be happy - whether they are in their chilren's home, assisted living or a skilled nursing facility. I've experienced this first hand.

The "aging process" is what it is and caregiving would be so much easier if the elderly person who is not too demented could treat their children with respect. My heart breaks for so many on this site who do an amazing job and are so truly kind and caring; only to be criticized and punished by selfish, ungrateful parents. However, there are those who do appreciate all that is done for them; but not enough of them.

My father suffered greatly in his life both physically and mentally, and even toward the end of his life "with dementia" he was a kind and gentle person and NEVER wanted to be a burden. Of course, there are so many levels of dementia, alzheimers, etc. and the agitation they suffer from that is gut wrenching.

We need more quality facilities in this country where our elderly can age with dignity, independence and quality medical care. It's difficult no matter what the circumstances, but thank goodness for this forum where people can go and find some solace.
The overwhelming part was my assumption that I could boil everything down to a science in a field characterized by its "liquidness" and multiple layers. Plus the realization that I had to fall off the map and virtually interrupt my life to take care of someone else.

At least I have the blessing of an extended family, and live in a city that offers so many avenues of escape from caregiving so the former caregiver can reconstruct his/her life and reunite with humanity once again.
I totally agree that we are the "chemical" generation and Depression, diabetes, rampant heart disease, etc are prices we pay. On the other hand, you have doctors pushing another kind of chemical as a cureall for these maladies with so many of them ignoring genetics but pushing drugs instead. Every medicine my mom saw on TV, she asked her doc for. I, on the other hand, am a realist in that I accept I'm getting older, I'm planning for it and I refuse to even remotely act like my mother. Yes, we had a terrible relationship from my babyhood until 2 years ago when she died. I'm so very thankful for AC where I could vent and share...and discover I was NOT the only daughter in history who had to deal with a narcissist for a mom. No I wasn't nuts, I wasn't wrong, I wasn't a freak just because I had a mother who never liked me. I love to read stories here about all the daughters who've always had a loving relationship with their moms and who like caring for them, as difficult as it. I never had that.
I have learned more from AC than I can say. It has enabled my husband and me to get our documents in order, know what the others' wishes are, inform his and my kids what to do when the time comes, on and on. If I hadn't gone thru such a turmoil with mom or read all this information here, we'd be floundering with no clue. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to have a plan. Old age has a way of sneaking up on all of us!
I agree with Always. After reading so much on AC, I have made out my Medical POA and living will. I have insurance in effect and have made all arrangements that I can think of so my loved ones don't have to be bothered. Also, I don't want any of them to have to care for me if I get to where I can't care for myself. I am on SS disability so saving up for my future is impossible. If need be the state will have to care for me or leave me on a curb.

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