Stresses of elder care hitting the workplace

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by wdlove, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #1
    NEW YORK -- Ken Stikeleather has left his Upper West Side apartment six times this year to fly to North Carolina to help his brother and three sisters care for their 84-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer's disease.

    Since last year, when Stikeleather and his siblings held a family meeting after their father's death, they have shared the work in providing her care, instead of burdening one of them. They have scheduled shifts to stay nights with their mother, Eva Mae Stikeleather, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago. One daughter perms her hair, and another takes her to the mountains to enjoy the outdoors. Stikeleather, who at 50 is the youngest and has no children, has returned to the family's hometown of Waxhaw, N.C., near Charlotte almost every month to cook meals and take her shopping and on long walks.

    ''The guilt was strong," Stikeleather recalled. ''So it was at that meeting I said, 'I am coming home.' "

    While the most common caregiver for a seriously ill or aging parent is still a middle-aged daughter, specialists on the elderly say that in the past decade more working men and a larger number of family members have been sharing in the responsibility, including ''suitcase" caregivers who log thousands of travel miles. Many, like Stikeleather, take repeated, extended leaves from work.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/07/11/stresses_of_elder_care_hitting_the_workplace/
     
  2. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

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    Apr 26, 2002
    Location:
    Alabama
    #2
    When my dad wasenjoying his last days, my sisters and I shuttled from Maryland and Illinois to Myrtle Beach to care for him. I went several times, doing things like shopping, cleaning up, making sure he ate and slept right, took him to the hospital, etc.
    We switched on and off untill finally I dragged him to Maryland where he died with his family around.
    But I'm not really proud of it... it was my duty. I;ve watched folks in this country plain forget about the people who raised them, and are too preoccupied with themselves that caring for an elderly parent takes away from their precious party time.
    Hope we're turning a corner in this sad chapter in our culture. But I doubt it.
     
  3. rueyeet macrumors 65816

    rueyeet

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    Jun 10, 2003
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    MD
    #3
    The year before last, I spent most of my vacation time helping Mom get her wheelchair and helping my sister through a difficult pregnancy. This year, both of my parents have needed minor surgeries, so I'm doing their grocery shopping on Sunday mornings so as not to take more vacation days.

    Since Mom's over 70 and Dad's over 80, it's only going to get worse. Fortunately I work for a large enough corporation that the FMLA applies, and they are sensitive enough to elderly-care issues that you can get reimbursement accounts, insurance, and counseling to care for an elderly dependent.

    I too wonder at people who can just leave the family who raised them high and dry, however difficult elderly care can be. I've got it easy so far...my parents retain their mental faculties and don't yet need any kind of day-to-day physical care. But it's a relief to see that maybe the nation will have woken up to elder-care issues by the time it's my turn to deal with them.
     
  4. goodwill macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2004
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    London
    #4
    as i read these three posts i couldnt help but to feel honored to post right here, in this thread and tell you how much i admire each of you. might be stupid to some to say this on an internet message board, but you guys are the ones who set the mold for others, the ones who know how priceless and unconditional family are. i look up to each of you as complete role models and assets to your family, to this site, to myself and i have no doubt at all so many more.
     
  5. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    Jun 25, 2002
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    Gone but not forgotten.
    #5
    I don't have the patience. I have a lot of respect for those who do.

    My dad sat down to lunch yesterday without getting his plate and putting food on it. The placemat really wasn't that appetising.

    Then, for supper, we were supposed to pull a couple of little pizzas out of the freezer and bake them. My dad wanted to get them, but forgot/didn't know what he was getting. I got them out of the freezer and he stood their knocking the pizza box against the counter. It's become a joke to the three of us that dad shouldn't be in the kitchen, so I sent him out and he was laughing.

    How do people handle this? I try to be patient and I know my dad has difficulties, but half the time, he decides to do things, so he won't be asked a second time.

    Maybe, we should all live with our parents and our children forever, so that we don't lose sight of family and caring for one another.
     
  6. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Dec 25, 2003
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    Northern Virginia
    #6
    All I can say is ask God for his help to give you the strength to get through each day, one day at a time. Remember also when you were younger you probably had your Dad banging his head against the wall with the things you did. :) I know I did.

    Your later comment is the way things used to be done. Large, family homes. Or maybe a a few houses on the same block.

    I think that it is a problem that we now have, in that we are so into ourselves and what is best for us. Sacrifice is not a word that many find in their vocabulary any more. In particular when it comes to family.

    My hearts out to all that have written. Though I wish I had had the chance to "pay back" my parents for their love and devotion. Alas, they both died way too early (Mom at 58, Dad at 67). You never know what you have till it is gone.
     
  7. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    Oct 20, 2002
    #7
    We need to go back to life as it was prior to World War II. Just like on "The Walton's" 3 generations or even 4 would live in the house. That way there is plenty of help raising the children. Then when the time comes the parents and grandparents. It would help family life in so many ways. The majority of the problems today can be traced to the breakup of the family.

    There is more help for families to day that there was in the time of "The Walton's." Like my wife there is Visiting Nurses, home health aids, physical therapy, psychology, and Social Workers. A lot of support is available. There is also respite care for nights out or vacations.
     
  8. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #8
    My dad didn't really participate in our lives, even though he was in the house. My mum managed everything except my dad's civilian jobs. Now, she has myasthenia gravis. With his memory loss and her reduced abilities, I'm not sure that the three of us will survive at all.

    As for your parents, as long as you had good times and enjoyed the company of your parents and they yours, that's as good as it gets at any age. I offer my sympathy and my hope to you but only you can resolve your life. :)
     
  9. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Dec 25, 2003
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    Northern Virginia
    #9
    Thanks, and my thoughts are with you and your family. You're a god man for helping them both out in their time of need. There is a reason IMO that we are put through things in our life. We may not see the reason why, if ever. But I do believe that there is a reason.

    Also I only wished I lived in a Walton type of household. There were good times, but there were bad also. Maybe it is denial, but I choose to focus on the good times; realizing the bad were due to things out of my control.
     
  10. rueyeet macrumors 65816

    rueyeet

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    Jun 10, 2003
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    MD
    #10
    I couldn't tell you....I'm so very fortunate that neither of my parents suffer any form of dementia. They're also very intelligent people (Dad worked as a physicist until he was 74) and have done a lot to keep their minds active. I don't know that I'd be able to handle it at all if this weren't the case.

    In spite of the physical difficulties, I wouldn't at all mind having to have Mom move in with me if anything happened to Dad. She and I have always been close friends as well as parent/child, so that would actually be pretty cool. :)

    I guess the thing is that I've always been close to my family, and they've been the only thing that's gotten me through some of the more difficult times in my life, so to me it's inconceivable to NOT care for them in their time of need. But I'm fortunate there too--many people simply don't have a good relationship with their parents. The article wdlove posted observes that companies are finding that the one-size-fits-all solutions that have worked in child care just don't cover all the many permutations of elder care, and it's no wonder...every family works differently.
     
  11. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #11
    I agree with Chip NoVaMac, it's important to focus on the good times. Nothing in life is guaranteed. That is why my faith gives me great courage about the future. My father died in 1975 cancer. My mother-in-law died in 1998. My mother died March 30th Alzheimer's disease. My father-in-law is OK except fro Parkinson's, he is in an assisted living in another city. We don't have any children, so it is just us.
     
  12. pivo6 macrumors 68000

    pivo6

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2002
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #12
    As wdlove said, there are many places to turn to for help. If your parent is sufferring from Alzheimer's, try contacting a local Alzheimer's Association link chapter for resources and help. When my wife and I lived in St. Louis, she started a support group for families of sufferers.

    Some of the church's in the town that we live in now have gotten together to have an "Adult Daycare" that meets once a week. This gives the caregiver some time during the week for a much needed break or time to run his/her own errands.

    Bousozoku- I think that you would be surprised at what you're capable of when/if the time comes. Hang in there and don't be afraid to ask for help.
     

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