Notes and Mentions
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Tina: Hey everyone, I?m Tina.
Serena: And I?m Serena and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Tina: Welcome to No Need to Explain. We are so glad you're here.
Serena: First, as always, a quick disclaimer
Tina: We come to you not as mental health professionals or experts in the fields, but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission to normalize the conversation around mental health.
Serena: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You'll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website noneedtoexplainpodcast.com.
Tina: So Serena, you've heard of the sandwich generation, right?
Serena: Yeah, so you mean those of us who find ourselves caring for aging parents while also caring for children at the same time?
Tina: Exactly. So according to Seniorliving.org, quote, ?this rising demographic already accounts for 47% of adults in their 40s and 50s who have a parent 65 or older and are also raising a youngster or supporting a grown child. In fact, one in seven of these adults are financially assisting both parents and one or more children.?
Serena: So based on those statistics and what we know about our listeners, this is a topic that is, we imagine is relevant to many of you out there and not a topic we've covered yet on the podcast. So we are going to bring you a couple of different guests to talk about this super important topic.
Tina: Today we have Janice Goldmintz joining us. Janice is a published author and presenter on aging and generational transition challenges. She's currently the president of Talk About Aging, a company focused on providing education and coaching to their clients to achieve the highest quality of life, any age, any stage. Janice is also an expert by experience and we will have her share that in a minute. Janice, welcome to the podcast.
Janice: Well, I'm glad to be here with you, Tina and Serena. I'm happy to share what I know about being in the sandwich generation.
Serena: Great. Thanks, Janice. So we would love to start by having you share how you came to this work and what your own experience is around caring for aging parents.
Janice: Well, I would say my first real experience with it was when my grandmother was in what was called a nursing home at that time. And I remember walking into the building and seeing these people in wheelchairs literally lined up around the nurse's desk doing nothing, just existing. I don't even know another word for it. And I remember thinking, I will not let this happen to my parents. And I never really thought a lot about it as I grew up and my parents were aging until they got closer to that age. The other great influence in my life was I ended up working with a geriatrician, which is a doctor who specialty is older adults. And I watched how he was with his patients. And he looked at them holistically. He looked at them not just as their diseases, but also their dis-eases. How these diseases affected their lives. And I was really inspired and I ended up going back to school to get a master's degree in gerontology. And in terms of my own experience, my mother had COPD and dementia. And so I did a lot of caregiving for her and advocacy. And right now my dad, he is 92, also is going through Alzheimer's. And so again, I find myself in that role of advocacy and caregiving for him.
Tina: Yeah, so we often talk on the podcast about listening to the world. We are intelligent people who do a lot of things. And that's certainly why we do what we do. And it sounds like that's the same for you. So we know that you support people in creating the best plan for the whole family. And it occurs to me that that's really complicated, right? A lot of complicated decisions. So how do you go about determining the best living situation for aging parents?
Janice: So I would say there's a number of criteria that I think are important to look at. Number one, look at the health situation today of those older adults. And people make the decision even when they're healthy to decide what they want to do going down the road. So I would say health is number one. Also, look at where you live now. Is it adaptable if there should be a health challenge that occurs either suddenly or over time? Is it going to be appropriate for you down the road? You also need to look at your financial situation. What is it that you think you can afford? And that's in terms of where you live, what kind of extra services you might want to be able to bring in. All of that. I think it's important to look at social supports. So where is your family? Where are your friends? Where are the things that you like to do? Is it going to be around you conveniently? Or if you move, will you lose that? Or will you be able to gain it in some other way? And then another one, which is kind of a strange thing to think about, is actually government programs. If you're living in, I'll say an urban center, you're likely to have more access to government programs than if you're in a rural setting. So it's just something to keep in the back of your mind. And those are what I would say are the most common criteria I would suggest.
Serena: Okay. Yeah, those are great things to keep in mind. And we often have other family members involved in this process. So how do you help people through when siblings, maybe, you know, don't see eye to eye or other people involved in the process?
Janice: So one of the advantages I have is I've taken training and it's called Essential Conversations. And it's just this kind of a situation where people sit down and they can't always agree on what is the best thing for their loved ones. The key to me is the goal that you set, because you want to set a goal for the family. And you want to make sure that whatever it is you do is the best for everybody, not just for the older adults, but that the family members or whoever else is involved also can be on board with it. Not everybody wants to do everything. And sometimes finding the way for everybody to be involved in the way that they can be helps to get everybody on the same page. And sometimes you need an objective third party to come in and I'll just use the word facilitate because you can't come up with a solution. So sometimes you need somebody who doesn't have an emotional attachment to be part of the conversation.
Tina: That's awesome. And those essential conversations, that is such a skill that more of us could benefit from in even in everyday life, but good for you for doing that. It's really good. So let's talk about the sandwich generation. This really is a reality for many of us. Talk about the complications for those of us who find ourselves in this place where we're raising small people or teens or as we say adult children and you know caring for older adults as well.
Janice: The interesting thing is if you think about the sandwich generation is that we are living longer. So you may end up with actually four generations of people. And it's not something that we are used to navigating. It's a lot of generations out there to make sure that you are having relationships with. So if your kids are university age, you're worried about what they're doing in school. You want to make sure that they're getting the support they need. They're successful. They're becoming independent, but you still want to be there for them. You know, enjoy their university life with them. If your kids are younger and they're still in high school, then that's a whole other thing you're still navigating, making sure their homework is done. All of that that you would have to do as a normal parent. So then add to it. Now you've got a parent on the other side or two parents on the other side, or it could be your grandparents because we have a lot of situations where it's the great, the kids are taking care of their grandparents for whatever reason. So there's a lot of responsibility up and down that generational line. And to try and navigate health care and whatever other challenges that may be occurring with your young kids or older kids can be a challenge.
Also, I would say the majority of people are working. So add in work life stresses and situations. There's something called presenteeism where you're at work and you're sitting there in your office or wherever, but you're on the phone with your family, your siblings, the doctor. It's taking you out of what you need to be doing in your career life. That's another challenge that people have. Also maintaining relationships, not just within your family, but your friends and whatever and your interests to make sure you're taking care of yourself in the midst of all of that of all of that responsibility.
Serena: So let's go further down that path. Our listeners know that we mentioned self-care at least once an episode and
Tina: to remind ourselves to take care of that inspiration.
Serena: And I can imagine that for people caring for, I'm going to back up a little bit here because the idea of presenteeism, I feel like we've talked about that before Tina in terms of when your child is struggling, those things happen, right? You're being called by the school all the time and juggling things. So now we're adding on aging parents as well. So how can we avoid burnout with all of these caregiving duties?
Janice: I would say the number one thing that I suggest and it's so simple is ask for help. People tend to be lone warriors. Oh, I can do it. I'm super person. I can juggle all the balls in the air and none of them are going to fall, but they do fall. And a lot of it is we, especially if you're a daughter, it tends to fall on the daughter's shoulders. I'm supposed to. This is what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to take care of my parents. I'm supposed to take care of my kids and my husband and my life. So somehow I gotta make it work. But by asking for help, that takes some of the responsibility off of you. And in that, I suggest talking to your siblings, talking to, as I said, if there's adult grandchildren that might be able to help or even high school age grandchildren that might be able to help. Things like outside support, friends that can help you or can help your loved ones, your parents, religious organizations. If they're members of a church or synagogue or mosque or whatever, do they have outreach from those places that could help you if you needed it? Also, government services. And I go back to that. In some places, you can get somebody to come in and give you some respite so that you can go and go on a holiday or spend time with your family or whatever that might look like so that you have some breathing space or even go to the gym or whatever it is you need to do for your own self.
Tina: Yeah, it's hard to ask for help. We've talked about that certainly before. So I'm curious how you take good care of yourself, Janice. What are your go-to's?
Janice: So it's funny because I'm part of a challenge somewhere and yesterday was a day that we were supposed to make it fun a fun day. So I actually took myself out and where I am today is very cold. We?re having a cold snap. I couldn't really be outside. So I went to a mall and I ordered myself an espresso latte, which is something that is a treat for me. And I walked around and I looked in the stores and then I went out for dinner with friends and then I came home and I have some adult coloring books and I colored. And it was really relaxing and fun and I did not go and see my dad yesterday. I took a break from doing that yesterday. I will go today. So it was just this sort of scheduled evening for me to relax, enjoy, be with other people, and recharge my batteries.
Tina: Yeah, that's great. And it's good to give yourself permission to do that every once in a while.
Serena: Yeah, I love that you gave yourself permission to, you know, to care for yourself and to know that your dad is cared for and that it's okay if you don't see him one day and you'll see him the next. So yeah, thank you for sharing that.
Tina: Yeah, that's awesome. So I can imagine that our listeners might want to connect with you and learn more. So where can they find you?
Janice: You can connect with me in a few ways. I have a Facebook page which is Talk About Aging. And I regularly post articles and these types of podcasts wherever I think there's important information for either the older adults or their children or families so they can get some resources as well. You can also email me at Janice at talkaboutaging.com. And then finally you can go to my website which is talkaboutaging.com. I'm also on LinkedIn for anyone that wants to connect with me there under talk about aging. And I'm happy to answer questions, give resources, whatever it is I can do to help you to navigate the journey and really have exactly what you would say in the beginning, you know, highest quality of aging, any age, any stage. I truly believe in that.
Serena: So Janice before we bring the episode to a close, I wonder if there is anything we haven't asked you that you want to make sure you share.
Janice: I just want to make sure that people let themselves off the hook that this is a challenge when you're taking care of parents and children and yourself. It's not about being perfect. It's about doing your best and being okay with however it looks. And sometimes it's going to be messy. And sometimes it's going to be wonderful. The other thing that I really want to stress is to create memories. It doesn't matter what that is and how it is for your family, whether it's taking videos or recording voices. Because down the road, there may be a time where things change and you don't have that opportunity. And you have that legacy. And you can pass that on within generations. And I think that's, you know, an amazing opportunity.
Serena: Right. Yeah, I really appreciate those suggestions. And thank you for taking the time to join us today and discuss this super important topic. We appreciate all that you do.
Janice: Thank you for allowing me to share it.
Serena: Yeah. And so podcast friends, we are as always grateful for you spending your time with us today and listening. If you get a chance, go to Apple Podcast, leave us a review, subscribe, and please share this podcast with others. It helps our podcast get out to more people, which means we can stay on the air longer. So you will find more content on our website. Noneedtoexplainpodcast.com or on the socials or you can leave us a voice message. Lots of ways to get a hold of us. You'll find that number in our notes. Call and tell us what you think of the podcast or just call to say hi.
Tina: And this is your gentle reminder to take a care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Serena: Thanks for listening.