Help for the Sandwich Generation

After I finish writing this blog posting, I'm going to pick up my mom at the airport. She's coming back after five weeks of taking care of her 92-year-old father in a nursing home in in his native Puerto Rico, 3,000 miles away from where Mom lives now.

He had entered the home in January and was adapting fine, so much that we three were going to take a Caribbean cruise together last month. But a week before departure, my mom got a 3 a.m. call from the nursing home -- blood was found in Grandpa's urine. My mom had to pay $900 for an earlier flight and when she arrived, she found a host of problems -- he had deep-vein thrombosis from lying in bed too much, the nursing-home care was on the lax side (the blood came from catheters inserted improperly, and when his daily dose of aspirin ran out, no one bothered to replenish it ), and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Grandpa is facing the downhill section of the road through life, and now my mom is wondering whether she should move to Puerto Rico until the end, bring him back to California, or hire a full-time nurse to keep an eye on him and the nursing-home staff. She has the dilemma that many in the "sandwich generation" are facing with aging parents. Her story probably mirrors what many of you are facing with your own parents or grandparents, and if you're like my mom and me, you're wondering how to get proper help for all the financial, health and legal aspects of someone who's winding down their time on earth.

The point of my pouring out this angst is to tell you about, a newly-launched web site for caregivers. It offers articles to on age-related topics such as Alzheimer's, housing options, and Medicare. If your parents are still living at home or living with you, there's a shopping site to buy must-haves from adult diapers to wheelchairs.

But for most people who live farther away from their parents, the best aspect of the site is its Care Manager Services -- call a toll-free number to talk to a geriatric-care manager about housing options, Medicare/Medicaid, legal arrangements, etc. (the initial consult is free, but the costs start if you want to move ahead on a manger's recommendations). offers a lot of information, but there's so much information that it can be overwhelming to read. That's not its fault, it's just there are so many aspects to elder care, and so many organizations all over the place to contact about those aspects. A good how-to guide that's easy to follow is this Money article offering good books, websites and resources that "sandwichers" can use to manage affairs of their growing kids and aging parents.

Elder care is mired with pitfalls for both the elders and their children. With good care hard to find and any kind of care costing an arm and a leg, sandwichers are often on their own figuring out how to cope. My mom is 61 and seems pretty healthy but I am definitely watching her experience as she tends to her father -- because I may be in her shoes someday soon.
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