Author: Carolyn Abate

Intergenerational Programming

Earlier this summer I wrote a story about center in Southern California that combines a preschool and a senior day care facility. The two groups have their own uniques space where they hold their daily activities. But once a day they also come together for intergenerational programming – singing songs, cooking, walks around the neighborhood. Studies have shown that elder adults often live in isolation and intergenerational programming is one way to help that feeling of being all alone. Click on the link if you’d like to read more.

 

First blog post

First blog post

This past January I was asked to take my Dad to a doctor’s appointment. He’d been living in a memory care facility for about five months and the caregivers noticed a change in his behavior.

He was no longer the happy-go-lucky guy they first encountered. Instead, my Dad was becoming reclusive. He didn’t want to participate in activities. His eating had slowed down and his sleep had increased. The caregivers thought he might need a medication adjustment.

So I took the day off,  arranged for after-school care for my children, and drove from my home in San Francisco to the Central Valley, where my parents live. At the doctor’s office we sat in silence in the waiting room, but after about ten minutes my Dad turned to me.

“Carolyn, should I tell the doctor I’ve cheated?”

Great.

About three years earlier my Dad was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is dementia with Parkinson-like symptoms. If you’ve ever been around someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s you know their timelines and memories get mixed up. When they start to talk about things that happened in the past as if they’re happening today it’s important to never correct them. It’s better to go with the conversation, not fight it.

But that day in the doctor’s office, I didn’t want to “go with the conversation.” I had no idea what my dad was talking about and wasn’t eager to find out. So I pretended to not hear him and looked at my phone. But after a few minutes my Dad once again asked me the same question.

“Carolyn, should I tell the doctor I’ve cheated?”

This time I knew I had to pay attention. I sighed heavily and begrudgingly looked up from my phone.

“From what Dad?”

He looked me square in the eye and with a hint of smile replied.

“Yesterday I had caffeinated coffee.”

My Dad died about three months after this doctor’s visit.

It’s only now, after his passing, that I’ve finally found the time to start this blog. I’d been holding on to the idea for a while. But on top of coordinating with his caregivers and providing support to my mom, I’m also married, have three kids, and work as a freelance editor, writer, journalist.

I am the epitome of the sandwich generation – adults who help care for aging parents but also care for their own families. According to the Pew Research Center, about one in every eight Americans, between the age of 40 and 60 are in this position. This group is only going to get bigger. U.S Census statistics show that aging adults, 65 years or older, will boon to 70 million by 2030, double the current population.

A life that demands that you care for both your elderly parents and your own family – meat on both sides – demands a lot. My hope with The Hoagie Files is to create an informative, supportive, and even humorous space for all of us, as we navigate our way through the sandwich generation.