Thursday, July 4, 2013

Repost: Caring for kids and parents -- at the same time

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

Sept. 12, 2012

As fascinated as I am by childcare matters, there's another kind of care I worry about a lot: Elder care.

I'm at an age when my parents and other relatives are growing older and require more of my time -- at the same time when my daughter is also needy.

While I want to think of my parents as superhumans who will retain their physical and intellectual vibrancy for many decades to come, the truth is that I can already see them moving a bit more slowly. And since I'm an only child who expects to have sole responsibility for their care (albeit with the assistance of my husband) that scares me a bit, for both practical and emotional reasons.

I recognize that being around my parents and in-laws as they age is a tremendous gift for my daughter and will teach her a kind of grace.

That said, I need to figure out how to prepare to be an active, caring mom and an active, caring daughter. Is it possible to do all that without giving anyone short shrift? What happens when I have to decide between going to work, seeing the school play and taking one of my parents to a doctor appointment? I seriously do wonder how I'll make it all work, especially since I don't live in the same city as my parents.

For whatever reason, "The Squeeze" isn't something people speak about publicly.

These days, I'm starting to look at my family, life and possessions with a more critical eye to determine how everything could work for three generations, if necessary. For example, my daughter loves bounding up and jumping down the steps to the front door of our home, but those same steps can be difficult for an elderly person's knees. That same home is pretty small; would my family have to move if we needed to care for an elder at home? The small vehicles my husband and I have traditionally owned might need to be traded in for something more roomy with easier access.

It's all pretty exhausting, and I'm just in the thinking-about-these-things stage.

How do you handle "The Squeeze"?

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