Photos by Jane Primerano
By Jane Primerano
Torrential downpours didn’t deter members of the Mt. Olive Chamber of Commerce from the Women in Business program on “The Sandwich Generation” on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at Jersey Girl Brewery in Hackettstown.
Speakers were Wendy Long of St. Clare’s, estate attorney Sandra Woolcock and Melissa Nichols of Heath Village.
“You need to become an expert on parents and children and the care industry,” Nichols said. “Make a list of your top concerns,” she added. Problems children might have whether drugs or just sketchy friends still have to be dealt with even when aging parents are presenting their own sets of challenges.
She also encouraged the
chamber members to make sure they are taking care of themselves while caring for children and parents. Among the handouts she brought was one listing emotional, spiritual, social, physical, intellectual and occupational needs that caregivers must be concerned with.
Even if the caregiver has an aging parent in the home, help is available.
“There are services that provide a few hours of care a week,” Jamie Bennett of the Visiting Nurse Service noted from the audience.
“Most people want to age in place,” Nichols said. Also, she added, many people can’t afford to do anything else.
Aside from the cost, another problem with removing seniors from their home is that their environment may be very important. They may be attached to a church, their regular places to shop and their friends. Often seniors don’t want to give up control. Nichols suggested having all discussions in person and to use open-ended
“Avoid information overload,” she cautioned.
Some of the questions that should be addressed include driving and loneliness. Often many of a senior’s friends are gone.
Sometimes, the caregiver notices things that don’t come up in conversation. Bruises may indicate a fall, a stack of unpaid bills or a recent weight gain or loss or a home not as neat as before can be indicators of something wrong, Nichols said.
Sometimes, there is no way for a senior to remain at home and the caregiver must assist the senior in choosing the right place.
Wendy Long has made a career out of helping seniors and their caregivers make choices.
Starting the conversation early helps, she pointed out. The families must know exactly what resources exist and what is the best way to handle money.
She noted sometimes paying for transportation can be worth the expense so the caregiver doesn’t have to take off work.
Often legal assistance is necessary and that’s where Sandra Woolcock and other attorneys come in.
“You’ve got to be careful what you do with your assets,” she said. A lawyer can determine whether it is the best course of action to transfer an asset while the senior is still living. Families can also benefit from paperwork being overseen by an attorney, such as a health care directive or will.
Members of the audience shared some of their stories.
Chamber President Harry Brown pointed out children should keep an eye on their surviving parent after the spouse dies. Others talked about the added burden of having a child with special needs while caring for an elderly parent.