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The Sandwich Generation Mental Health Changes Part 6

Concerns about Depression in the Elderly

The leaves are mostly down and the cooler days indicate winter is coming. This is Saturday and your husband is getting your home ready for the winter and hopes to get over to mom’s home today to winterize there also. Life today is active, especially for women aged 45 – 56 who care for both their parents and children. This is the sixth of a six part series for these people caught in the “sandwich generation”.

Mom is finding it tougher to get out these days. She is not quite a steady on her feet and doesn’t get out in the winter much anymore. Dad has been gone for several years now and mom hasn’t been as active since. She delights in the days you are able to stop and visit. She loves to hear about what’s going on with your children, but something seems a little different. You ask mom if she wants to go to the school play this week, but she declines simply saying she gets so tired these days.

She spends most days at home alone; and although you try to call every day, some days get by without a call. Many of mom’s friends are also now gone or not able to get out and visit. Forecasters predict a cold and snowy winter weeks and mom just doesn’t want to get out. In fact, she says that sometimes the walls seem to close in on her and time seems to move so fast, but yet stand still. Mom has missed several doses of her medications and doesn’t seem to be concerned.

Depression is a big concern for people as everything around them seems to be changed. Life can seem out of control. You can help mom in several ways. First, seek counseling. A qualified professional can help. If possible take mom to counseling; simply be there for her, as much as possible.

Another idea is to try to get mom around more people and activities. Perhaps clubs and organizations could help. Perhaps, it is a good time to look at a change in living environments. Senior living facilities offer daily activities, community meals and socialization. Most importantly, these are not nursing home and residents have freedom to come and go as the please. This living arraignment will tend to get a person out of the “four walls closing in” and may help a person actually live a longer and better quality of life. Counseling can still be pursued during this adjustment and probably be Medicare payable.

Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do to manage this? Three words of advice: Plan, Plan and Plan. Legal, financial, residential, mental and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis.

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