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Moms In The Middle

by Lindsey Getz

With both aging parents and children to care for, there’s an entire generation of people trying to “have it all”—fortunately help is on the way.

Robin Feller, of Sewell, is a working mother of three, grandparent, and a caregiver to her mother, who is diagnosed with dementia. Between rushing to get the kids off to school, preparing for a big project at work or accompanying her mother to doctors’ appointments, it’s a lot to manage, Feller admits, but this tough mom has found a way to control her own personal balancing act.

Struggling to adapt to the tug-of-war between parent and child isn’t a singular experience -- it’s natural part of the “sandwich generation,” a growing number of men and women sandwiched between supporting children and parents, often both at the same time. According to a Pew Research Center survey, roughly 15 million, or two-in-10, baby boomers are now raising kids or financially supporting at least one adult child while providing some financial support to a parent.

Fortunately, help is out there. From local parents’ support groups and after-school programs to keep your children active, to in-home and extended care facilities for your aging loved ones, there is no shortage of support help balance the demands of raising your own children while caring for a parent.

Knowing Where to Turn
When making decisions, the biggest problem many caregivers face in finding help is knowing where to look.

Michelle Hylton, Atlantic Coastal division manager for Homewatch CareGivers ManorCare, finds that many people who fall into the sandwich generation aren’t aware of the resources available. “Often times people would inquire about extra help only after something tragic already happened,” says Hylton. “We wanted to get information on resources out to them in advance.”

Seeking help early and having advance conversations with your loved ones about concerns and future care can make the transitions smoother and less stressful.

Role Reversal
Feller also volunteers at a local nursing home, where she encounters people like herself, fellow members of the sandwich generation, on a constant basis. “It’s a role reversal: all of the sudden the child becomes like the parent,” Feller says. “And that’s not always easy to accept.”

Barbara Wrzeszcz, director of marketing and admissions at the Collingswood Manor, says that the sudden change in responsibility can be one of the biggest problems adults in this situation face.

“With the role reversal it becomes very difficult for the child to make decisions for their parent,” Wrzeszcz says. “It’s always a struggle as to how much they should push. How much independence should Mom and Dad still have and how intrusive should they be in making decisions for them? That’s a huge challenge, especially if the parent doesn’t recognize that they’ve become more fragile or needs extra help. It’s important to find a middle road.”

An assisted living community can relieve a person of some of the frustrations that come with being a caregiver, allowing them to adjust back to being another loving family member. “Assisted living is a home-like environment,” says Rhonda Meekins, certified assisted living administrator and executive director of the Sterling House in Deptford, a Brookdale Senior Living Community. “It provides all of the comforts of home, but still offers a high level of care. We strive to meet five assisted living concepts: dignity, independence, privacy, choice, and individuality.”

“In some cases, depending on the responsibility, these roles can become overbearing, and lead to something called caregiver stress,” Meekins says. “As much as you want to take care of that loved one, if you become stressed or even ill trying to manage it all, you won’t be able to take care of anyone.”

A Helping Hand
Being a member of the Sandwich Generation can leave you feeling caught in the middle, or pulled in two directions. Finding the right caregiver option to help support these needs can be a wonderful middle ground. In-home care, assisted living communities and acute inpatient rehabilitation programs offer alternatives that can soothe the stress for both parent and child.

“People usually find that once they’ve moved a parent or aging loved one [to a senior care facility], their relationship dramatically improves because they no longer have to be the caregiver,” explains Tiffany McGovern, of Voorhees Senior Living. “They can just go back to being the daughter or the son.”

In some cases, acute rehabilitation may be the best option. After a neurological, traumatic, or orthopedic event, a person may be left with various functional limitations that may prohibit them from returning to their previous lifestyle.

At Voorhees Senior Living, the professionals can help your aging loved one with showering, dressing, medication and other needs, McGovern says, “alleviating the burden on the child and giving them the peace of mind that their loved one is being taken care of and is happy.”

In-Home Care
In some cases, the decision may be made to keep an elderly parent at home, even with a caregiver’s own children are still living there. In those cases, the support from a professional service can be invaluable.

Natalie Denize, regional director of Nanny’s USA, started Elder Care in Your Home as a way to offer extra help in non-medical areas that caregivers may find challenging. “Bringing a professional into the household will remove sources of friction and restore harmony into the home again,” explains Denize. “Our thoroughly screened caregivers help with all sorts of needs unique to aging adults including everything from changing bed linens to taking out the garbage, to monitoring diet and food intake.”

Many caregivers aren’t aware of these options, and some are too afraid to ask for help.

“There are many who continue to keep this entire burden on their own shoulders but we want people to know we’re out there to help,” agrees Wendy Pester, of Homewatch CareGivers in Westmont.

Homewatch Caregivers provides companion care and assistance to in-home individuals that need some extra help or supervision. They also offer a program for elders dealing with dementia – a tough condition for many caregivers to face. Fortunately, there are a variety of facilities dedicated to providing patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia additional support when they can no longer live at home.

“A lot of times caregivers get frazzled or frustrated by the behaviors associated with dementia but we are there to help them through it,” Pester says, noting the company also has an affiliated memory care location in Cherry Hill.

There is a world of guidance and support available to assist the “sandwich generation” in such personal and sensitive situations. Whether organizing your schedule or seeking professional assistance to care for a loved one, proper planning can lead to a happier and healthier family future.

Moms in the Middle Directory

Whether choosing for your child or your parent, there are countless options to help manage your schedule.

Champions United Gymnastics
Students have the greatest opportunity to develop strength, body awareness, coordination, flexibility, socialization, self-esteem and love for the sport while developing healthy habits or life.
Mount Laurel
(609) 864-6810
Champions-United.com

Chez Dance
Every child should have the experience to be on stage. It instills a great sense of self esteem and a feeling that they can conquer most fears.
Turnersville
(856) 875-4475
ChezDance.com

Collingswood Manor
Their exceptional staff of professional caregivers provides quality of life for residents. From residential living, assisted living, respite and hospice care to those needing a nursing home level of care Collingswood Manor offers levels of elder care that allows families to know their loved ones are in safe hands. Skilled nurses are also available at Collingswood Manor. Call today to find out just how impressive their staff and facilities are.
Collingswood
(856) 854-4331
CollingswoodManor.org.

Four Seasons Children’s Center
Four Seasons Children's Center serves children ages 0-7. Four Seasons Children’s Center in Mount Laurel offers your child lots of learning, good friends, and good, healthy fun. Enroll your child now for an enriching and exciting school year.
Mount Laurel
(856) 866-0444

Haddonfield Friends School
At Haddonfield Friends School, students strive for and achieve their personal best. In addition to strong academics, Haddonfield Friends School provides a curriculum designed to develop critical and creative thinkers. Stop by for a Tuesday Tour or call to schedule a time for a personal tour.
Haddonfield
(856) 429-6786
HaddonfieldFriends.org

Huntington Learning Center
Every 12 minutes a parent calls Huntington Learning Center to get the attention and results they can't get anywhere else. The success of our program lies in the one-to-one attention we devote to every student and the expertise of our caring, certified tutors.
Cherry Hill
(856) 751-1848
Turnersville
(856) 227-0033
HuntingtonLearning.com

Innova Health & Rehab
Countless services. Three locations. One common goal. Innova helps patients regain mobility and maximize their level of function while recovering from a post acute illness or disabling injuries. Innova fosters confidence and independence in their patients, improving quality of life and ensuring a successful return home. Innova has a fully equipped rehab gym and provides rehab services seven days a week.
Mt. Laurel
(856) 235-7100
Deptford
(856) 845-9400 x206, 208
Hammonton
(609) 567-3100 x203, 212
innovahealthandrehab.com

Juniper Village
Juniper Village is the pearl of Williamstown with its beautiful surroundings as well as educated, friendly and active staff. They care for their elderly residents with thoughtfulness as though they were their own family. Assisted Living and Memory Care facilities are part of the community. Juniper Village Wellspring has received coveted awards from Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Williamstown
(856) 740-4444
JuniperCommunities.com

Katz JCC
When it comes to quality education, the Katz JCC knows best. The NAEYC accredited program is designed to develop the whole child: socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Call now for enrollment.
Cherry Hill
(856) 424-4444
KatzJCC.org

The Learning Experience
Children enjoy the structure and discipline that's presented to them in such a way that they have no idea they're learning because of the fun they're having.
Voorhees
(856) 346-4140
TheLearningExperience.com

Manor Care
With 60,000 caregivers nationwide, the HCR Manor Care Centers are preeminent care providers in their communities. Quality care for patients and residents is provided through a network of more than 500 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, and hospice and home health care agencies.
Cherry Hill
(856) 428-6100
HCR-ManorCare.com

Monkey Town
This is the place with guaranteed fun for your children, while you get the peace of mind knowing it's a safe, clean environment. They have open play, birthday parties, special events and more. The owners are moms too, so you know your child is well taken care of. Check them out on the website and see when it works best for you to stop in.
Turnersville
(856) 227-5867
MonkeyTownNJ.com

Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes has been a trusted medical facility for so many years, it's a household word. Just recently they were awarded Best Regional Hospitals by U.S. News and World Report with high performing marks in Geriatrics, Kidney Disorders and Urology.
Camden
(888) 568-7337
LourdesNet.org

Woodbury Mews
Personal Assistance at Woodbury Mews Assisted Living is tailored for each resident's individual requirements. They provide 24/7 attention to the residents who enjoy their own apartment, activities, restaurant style dining and a comprehensive security system. Woodbury Mews, the community that treats you like family.
Woodbury
(856) 432-4150
Woodbury-Mews.com

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Fall Sports Preview, August, 2011.
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