What a year it has been. The last 12 months, along with teaching all of us how to navigate a whirlwind of Zoom calls, also has demonstrated the critical work that goes on every day in the aging services sector as we help families and support their aging loved ones.
The level of empathy in this industry in remarkable. One example was seen during the recent horrific storm and subsequent issues in Texas, Louisiana and the Southwest. You may have seen the article in ASA’s Generations Now about the selfless work by some of SYNERGY’s HomeCare professionals.
While we salute the myriad people who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic, we also have seen how the aging-in-place phenomenon has created a challenge. Older adults and their families may have underestimated the amount of help or the number of providers needed to deliver the appropriate level of care. Whether it’s a SYNERGY HomeCare caregiver providing companion or personal care, a rehab specialist or infusion nurse, the entirety of the caregiving spectrum can be daunting.
Unfortunately, what typically occurs is that an event triggers an avalanche of activity. Hospital visits lead to rehab facilities, which lead to in-home care. Families are forced to make important emotionally and financially based decisions on the fly. Often, the first time a family has ever had anyone come into their loved one’s home is when our caregiver arrives post-assessment.
Like Choosing a College with Only Months to Spare
To put this scenario into perspective, it is comparable to teenagers being told on May 1 of their senior year in high school to quick, pick a college. They wouldn’t have researched programs, costs, majors, size, etc. But that’s not how it works. Instead, from sophomore year on, an entire college industry engages students via consultants, test prep, flyers, mailers, college nights and tours, plus multiple educational sessions for parents.
A surround sound guide for the Sandwich Generation caregiver is coming soon.
Now picture the 50-plus million family caregivers. So many of them belong to the Sandwich Generation, caring for their kids and aging parents or other loved ones, all while working in careers they have spent years building. We need to get them more comfortable with what we do. Showcase how we can take the stress off of them. Educate them on the options they have and/or what to expect if or when an event occurs.
Just as our teenagers age, so do our older loved ones. Yet I think we would agree that most people in the Sandwich Generation are much better prepared for helping to make a college decision than they are for what is likely on tap for their Mom and Dad. Imagine if our industry was as skilled at marketing and building awareness as is the college admissions industry. Imagine if we could crack that code and have adult children and older parents ready for later life!
That’s why we at SYNERGY have worked with our partners at ASA and the National Alliance for Caregiving, along with the Aging Life Care Association and noted Employee Resource Program (EAPs) expert Mary Ellen Gornick to create our coming surround sound guide for the Sandwich Generation caregiver. We have looked at caregiving from a variety of angles, including how caregivers’ unpaid work impacts their lives, families and careers, and what help is available to them, and compiled it into this one extensive guide.
We are looking forward to publishing the guide in the coming days, and believe it will be an incredible vehicle for the entire sector to use as we look to empower caregivers and eldercare professionals, and raise awareness on the incredible work we all do.
Next month I’ll be able to share details from the guide, but in the meantime be on the lookout for the guide’s unveiling on the ASA Generations website.
Charlie Young is the CEO of SYNERGY HomeCare, which is headquartered in Gilbert, Ariz.