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What kind of sandwich are you?

One of my favorite topics that I’ve blogged about is the sandwich generation. I am blessed to have my mother and mother-in-law in my life as well as my children and grandchildren. That’s four generations right there. I constantly vacillate between being a daughter/daughter-in-law to my mom/mom-in-law and a mom/mom-in-law to my own children. And so it goes.

Today we have a guest poster, Fay Wein, from Senior Planning Services, who comes with loads of knowledge on the topic of sandwich generations, caregiving and elderly parents. I welcome you to read Fay’s article below and feel free to comment below the post.

Sandwich Generation Vexations

Introduction: There is almost nothing as stressful as caring for elderly parents while at the same time raising your own children. Being pulled in all different direction daily can get anyone frazzled. At the same time, the altruism and strong multi-generational relationships fostered cannot be understated. This topic is multi-faceted and we’d like to touch on some of the most common issues.

What is the sandwich generation? This is the generation stuck between the old generation and the new one. You’re like the monkey in the middle doing all the catching and dodging. To get a good laugh on this phenomenon called “The Sandwich Generation”, click here.

Why all the rage about the sandwich generation all of a sudden? 44% of 45-55 year-olds have at least one living parent and one child under age 21, according to an AARP study. More than 65 million Americans provide an average of 20 hours per week of care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly loved one during any given year. For more stats, click here.

What are the benefits of the sandwich generation? July has been established as the Sandwich Generation Awareness Month to honor the heroes who truly go above and beyond the call of duty to both nurture the future generation and honor the past. One survey found that 23% of multi-generational care providers would consider leaving their job altogether and a further 31% would reduce their hours. Despite the hardships endured, many of the respondents affirmed that the experience was highly rewarding for their children as well as for themselves.

What are the primary vexations the sandwich generation has to deal with?

  • Proving care for an elderly parent. Caring for an elderly parent, the ultimate form of giving back, is a familiar phenomenon in today’s America. Caregiver stress is all too common. Caregivers need to give themselves the care they require and ask for help in order to cope. Many find that the day is not long enough for their endless obligations.
  • Being there for your child. One sandwich generation mom related to me about the time she was caring for her dad who had broken his hip when the phone rang and it was her teenagers’ principal on the line. He wanted her to come and pick up her son who was being suspended from school! Juggling everything is no easy matter.
  • Financial support. Almost 50% of Americans 55 and older say they would to provide financial support for their elderly parents and adult children, according to the Retirement Re-Set study by SunAmerica Financial Group and Age Wave, a research group that tracks the cultural and financial impact of the graying of America.
  • Medicaid planning. When faced with the decision of placing a loved one into an assisted living or nursing home facility, Medicaid planning is called for. Without proper knowledge and planning, the rules and regulations of Institutional Medicaid and Global Options can literally be a maze and the eligibility process is all but simple. Many times a Medicaid planning and consulting company may be needed to guide one through this procedure and plan the “spend down”. This so called “spend-down” is managing your asset so you can help bring your resources below the Medicaid threshold. For more info, click here.

Conclusion: This phenomenon, “The Sandwich Generation”, seems like it’s the new trend and is here to stay, according to studies. Being aware of the upside and downside of this unique situation can help an individual better prepare for it and receive the proper guidance needed.

Fay D. Wein is a content and communications specialist at Senior Planning Services, an industry leader in guiding seniors and their families through the Medicaid maze, servicing NY, NJ, CT and PA. She loves cooking, blogging and spending time with her family.

Helicopter Grandparents

We’ve all heard about helicopter mothers, the moms you see in the soccer field cheering their kids on from the stands, and if said kids do not happen to be on the winning team, these moms get very upset.

Hovering Grandparents Swooping Down...Be Careful....

Hovering Grandparents Swooping Down…Be Careful….

Helicopter Moms  —  coined by Jim Fay and Foster Cline, have  received a bad rap – and for good reason. These parents hover just above their kids’ heads (and hearts), watching their kids’ every move, and basically living their own life  through that of  their suffocating and frustrated children.

But what about Helicopter Grandparents? How do they fit into the picture? Do Helicopter Moms (and Dads) who are unchecked (and haven’t worked on themselves to undo their annoying helicopter behaviors) grow up to become Helicopter Grandparents?

Continue reading

Gearing up for Gatherings

Hello everyone!

As I compose my post today, my family is outside preparing to have a barbecue. Well, that is for those who have arrived. You see, as is customary with our gang when we get together, everyone comes when they can…when they come..when they …well you get the idea. We are preparing lots of food, and I am feeling the angst of the Sandwich Generation.

Presently, one of my sons is putting the food up on the barbecue. Grandma – the matriarch of our clan — has gone shopping for all the food, and brought it over together with one of the cousins, who drove her around. Grandma is gearing up to direct the action.

The rest of my sons are out on errands and will be here shortly. Some of the other cousins will come as well, with the salad and some other food that they offered to make. My daughter-in-law is preparing some of the side dishes

My little grandsons  are scooting around on their scooters, taking turns with the bikes (most of the time) and having a great time.

Why am I writing all these seemingly irrelevant details? Well, one reason is that I am warming up as I have not written in awhile, and I am scrambling for material. No…kidding. Actually, I find that barbecue entertaining is in its own category. They can be challenging, and expensive, and chaotic, as well as fun, and exciting and fattening, and sometimes even stressful. And in writing these details, I take a look from afar at the action and events, and achieve some clarity and inner control over the seemingly challenging – albeit fun – gathering.

Never mind that my son does all the work. Never mind that it’s all outdoors on paper dishes and so there is no hassle with washing dishes and clean-up. Still – I find that barbecues can be stressful. When families gather together for summer get-togethers, after a long day of outings, it can breed very interesting family dynamics. Several generations under one patio roof  – or in our case – under one palm branch roof of our Sukkah, can yield some interesting interactions.

It can be a challenge to have fun when matriarchs manage, grandkids beckon, adult kids comment and stress surmounts. But it is definitely doable, and with some deep breaths, and some bracing, gearing and preparing, it will happen.

Ohhhh – I think I hear the rest of the company (or some) coming! Gotta run…


I’m Not Telling!

A few weeks ago, I took my grandson to visit someone, and the person asked him the typical questions that one asks a 4 year old: Who is your teacher? What is your favorite color? How old are you? etc.

Nothing unusual about the conversation; in fact it was a very charming conversation, one that both child and adult (and those watching) enjoyed.

Until my grandson decided to cut the interview short. His response to one particular question (a question which I don’t remember specifically), was “I’m not telling.”

That was it. Case closed. Dialogue ended. He didn’t want to “tell.” Was it a secret? Maybe, maybe not. But as far as he was concerned, the conversation was over. He wasn’t telling. Okay?

I have  a hard time saying the above words; I tend to be very open and honest. Someone could ask me a question that I find  inappropriate, but before I give myself a chance to process the question as “rude,” “NTB” (not their business), or just plain worthy of not answering, I blurt out something that satisfies them.

And later I regret it. Usually the question is not necessarily a personal one . In fact, it could be a very innocent question, but still one that produces that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, signalling to me to keep quiet, and to change the subject.

And often, I don’t heed that signal.

Recently, I had a more satisfying experience with this issue; an acquaintance asked me a question regarding one of my  children. The truth was I didn’t even know the answer. All of my children are adults and make their own decisions about certain matters.  I tried telling the person that I don’t know the answer. But the person would not relent. I tried changing the subject. Didn’t work.

And then it hit me to say the following:

“Hey, good question – why don’t you ask him?” (referring to my son).

That worked. My questioner backed off. (Whew). She wasn’t interested in calling my son up and getting her answer. She just wanted to discuss it with me. And I was not interested in going there.

I guess I’m getting better at following the lessons of my grandson – I am learning to convey in one way or another that although I may be an open person to some extent, there is a limit (I hope!)

Whether I use what I heard termed as “non-talk” (basically information that doesn’t really answer the question, but is nevertheless polite), or whether I use simply the phrase, “Hey, I’m not comfortable talking about that,” discretion is always a good thing.

Just because I am part of what is called the “sandwich generation” – does not mean I have to be privy to every detail of the people around me. Thankfully, I am (usually!) aware of that.

I guess there is nothing more to say on this post. Shhhhhhh.

Ode to Our Moms

I shared my previous post, “Warrior Woman”  this morning with my dear friend Joanie, who wrote an “Ode to Our Moms,” as a response to that post. I share that Ode below.

Joanie and I each have moms who were born in the autumn of 1929.  Each of our moms were raised in Brooklyn, New York. Each of our moms have daughters (Joanie and I!) who like to write poetry and prose.

And each of our moms fell last week, were bruised – but are thank G-d doing really well.

Our moms don’t know each other. Her mom, Grandma Vita lives in Santa Monica, California. My mom, Omi Eva lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her mom fell down a flight of stairs, and my mom tripped over a bump in the sidewalk.

Joanie’s poem speaks for the courage and strength of the human spirit, and all of our mothers’  spunk and will to live, to grow and to move on!

May all our Mommies – the matriarchs and model Bubbies of us all live to be 120!! May they continue to inspire us younger Bubbies of the sandwich generation, to be just like them: with the help of G-d, – strong, vibrant, and full of gumption.


Cheers to our moms

Who sit with their bruises

It can be a little confuses

Ahem! That’s confusing

But they keep on singing

Do you get the rhyming?

Ing, ing, ring, ring, ping, ping

Keep on sing-singing

And fix those broken wings

Learn to fly after these things

Cuz life is too short

To cry and to snort!

Warrior Woman

I had arrived at a huge event of the “Siyum Hashas” last week on Wednesday. My husband came home from work early, so we could leave at 3:30 for the program that began at 4:45 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles. There was no traffic surprisingly, and we parked, ate our lunch in the courtyard, rented binoculars, and submitted our pre-purchased tickets to the uniformed doorman by 4:15 pm. We were ready to go into the theatre and the doors were still not opened.

No problem. We sat in the huge lobby and relaxed. I heard my cell phone beep, and noticed a text from my mother who lives in New York. Noticing that she had sent me a picture attachment, I opened it, expecting to see the counterpart Siyum that took place in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Instead, to my alarm, was a photo of my mom in a hospital room. Her face was all bruised and bleeding. She had bandages on her forehead. My mom was sitting on what appeared to be a hospital bed, fully clothed. Her eyes were as  blue as ever, against her flushed face. Except for the black and blue marks all over her face, she didn’t look too bad. (I guess……). If not for her huge smile, I might have fainted. But I stayed strong.

I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I sat there – glued to the plush bench, feeling quite worried. Here I was  in the expansive lobby, waiting to enter a theatre and watch a momentous exhibit of Jewish men celebrating the completion of a 7 1/2 year Talmud learning goal, and my spunky mom just sent me a scary picture of herself. Continue reading

Clueless Bubby?

I often find myself sitting amongst people at a wedding, class, bar mitzvah or any random event. The conversation that I involuntarily overhear goes something like this:

“So what camp are you registering your kid in?”

“I’m putting him in a backyard day camp – where there are 10 kids, and it goes till 12 pm, which works well…”

“Really? Who is in charge there? Does she take kids who are not toilet trained yet?”

“I’m not sure – you’d have to ask her, but she’s really great with the kids…”

As I’m writing the above dialogue, I’m thinking that some young uns out there will read it and think several things: First, why in the world is a grandmother placed at the same table as younger folks?  Good point. Don’t know the answer to that right now. Second, they will note that I got some of my facts wrong. Another good point. But honestly I only hear bits and pieces of the chatter. It’s a good chance that I am misquoting a typical convo.

I’ve been there and done that. I have moved on. And to tell you all the truth, I’m embarrassed to admit: I am somewhat clueless about all of that. Continue reading

Sandwich Support

People my age — the sandwich generation –may be wrapped up in any number of ways.

“I feel like a flat, pasty piece of grilled cheese, all squeezed between two slices of bread,” said a good friend of mine to me the other day.

I sensed the pain in her voice as she used that metaphor. She is a daughter of elderly parents and a mom of many adult children who need her. She’s pulled (and pushed) in different directions and it hurts.

She felt quite stressed, and needs support during this frustrating period of life, and so do I. Continue reading

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