The Dagwood Generation

 We’ve all heard of the ‘Sandwich Generation’ but we might take it one step further and call it the ‘Dagwood Generation’. When you are squeezed between aging parents, children and then add grandchildren to the mix, you might feel like you are getting lost among the layers of needy family members. Are there times when you just want to escape to Tahiti and leave it all behind? You know you do….but we are all grateful to have our parents still alive and love those grandchildren…so we make ourselves available to all and put our future plans and travels on hold for a while.

However, we need to take time for ourselves, get away from all the drama and come back refreshed and ready for the next crisis. I am lucky to have a very supportive sister who shares helping with our parents’ issues.  She, however, bears the brunt of the burden as she lives only 10 minutes away and we are located an hour from their house. We try to make it into town at least once a week to take mom out shopping or get them to an appointment but Patty is on call if there is an urgent need to drop everything and get over there.

A little background with our parents’ situation…mom and dad are in their mid-eighties with dad suffering from vascular dementia. We suppose he’s beyond the early stages of this disease as sometimes he mistakes my mother with his sister, who passed away last year at the age of 93. Last week my sister and mom walked into the doctor’s office with him and he announced he was being escorted by his two sisters!

This is a man who did not graduate from high school, joined the army during WW II, and went to TV repair school upon his return, working on the first television sets to be sold. Several years later he found himself getting his high school diploma, bachelor’s degree and on to his master’s degree when he was in his fifties. He is an inspiration to me as I also finished college late in life, which was, what I consider, one of my life’s major accomplishments. Now, he cannot keep his bank account straight and, when asked how old he is, might say 56, instead of 86. This sometimes causes problems in the bedroom as he thinks he is still sexually active which mom nips in the bud, so to speak.

Next week my mom, sister and I will visit an attorney’s practice which specializes in elder issues. We met with them before mom’s open heart surgery last summer to obtain a Power of Attorney in case she was incapacitated by the procedure. Unfortunately, we could not get one on dad as the attorney questioned his ability to decide matters for himself. We were impressed with their firm and are now returning for a lengthy visit to figure out the next steps. They suggested we do not bring dad as he may be confused by the whole episode. Lately he has been ranted to mom that the three of us are just waiting for him to die so we can get his money. Five years ago he would have blanched at the idea of making such a claim and we have to realize that he is not in his right mind. However, it is difficult for mom to let such comments slip by without a retort. The one thing I learned while studying aging issues was to never, ever, argue with someone dealing with dementia.

I’ll continue to update our progress through this journey with our parents and will appreciate any and all comments and advice. We hope this blog will help others going through this painful search.

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