Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Sandwich, and I'm not talking turkey

Husband is caught firmly in the role of Sandwich Generation. He is caring for his family and his children, as always. but now he's adding the role of advisor to his parents.
Father-in-Law has had both knees replaced, and doesn't walk well. He still insists on mowing the lawn and using the snowblower and other chores, but now he's reached a point where it's simply not safe.
He had back surgery a few weeks ago, and the doctors couldn't discharge him afterwards because he wasn't able to physically care for himself. He went instead to a rehab wing to undergo physical therapy and more basic training.
Husband helped out by handling a few chores (lawn mowing, etc.), but one of the biggest things he did was attend a progress and planning meeting for his dad. I don't know what these meeting are called in senior citizen language, but in education we call them Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs. Just before he left to meet up with his parents at the rehab conference, Husband realized that it was, indeed, just like an IEP. Therapists, present level of performance reports, evaluations, goals -- the whole thing sounded extremely familiar. But we've done this for our child, not for our parents.
To make it tougher, F-i-L has been grumpy as all get out since moving into rehab. He's in pain. He's facing major life changes. He is finally being forced to confront the denial he's maintained for years about his health and his future. His child is taking care of him instead of vice-versa. He has trouble expressing himself on the big issues, so he complains about the little ones. He hates the food. His roommate hogs the bathroom. The serving staff takes away his meal trays too soon, rushing him. He's bored and has nothing to do. Oh, did I mention he hates the food?
We understand how he feels and why he's acting this way, but it still grates on our nerves. Husband and Mother-in-Law are getting the worst of it.
The next step in the process will be finding an appropriate apartment or condo for them. F-i-L needs assisted living; M-i-L doesn't. He needs to use his walker, so the place needs to be handicapped accessible. Household chores and repairs are not realistic for him. Lawnmowers? Uh-uh. Ladders? Not a chance. In case his health worsens, we need to look for a place that can accomodate his medical needs.
Then? We'll help them pack up and move, including selling their home and cleaning out 50 years of accumulated possessions and memories.
I'm not sure which step is going to be the hardest, but I know none of it will be easy for them or for Husband.
If the saying is true, that you are what you eat, hand the man a sandwich. Make it a good one; he'll need a lot of endurance for this marathon.

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1 Comments:

Blogger WkSocMom said...

Oh I wish you all the luck with this. We got just a small taste of it when visiting my MIL after a hip replacement, but are back again and she's doing a lot better. She lucky to have really caring neighbors and a son and uncle who live nearby. She doesn't have much problem asking for help for many things (much to their dismay sometimes :) but does get frustrated when she can't do certain things. My parents seem so healthy and independent they still take care of me more than the other way around, but I know that can't last forever...

11/21/2007 10:54 PM  

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