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Boom Calendar for Grown-ups ~ Curated for Us @ Fifty Plus
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Now in my early 70s, I am in the middle of what’s called the “Sandwich Generation,” as are many of my fellow Baby Boomers. 

In fact, we Boomers are the sandwich meat between the two slices of bread: we are caregivers who have children or grandchildren, possibly still at home or to some degree dependent on us; and older parents and/or siblings or friends who now, or may soon, need our help. 

Megan Vogt is the Aging and Disability Resource Center Senior Manager at the Northeast Georgia Aging and Disability Resource Connection – that long title mirrors the complexity of her work. She and her associates are the sandwich’s mayo, mustard, pickles, and tomatoes, pulling together all the other ingredients we need. She sees and hears it all. 

“We get calls from caregivers of all ages, from Baby Boomers to Millennials,” she says, but “Baby Boomers end up pivoting from caring for children to caring for parents. Many children of Boomers, or even grandchildren, continue to need support financially and emotionally after they enter adulthood. And many of our callers are calling for friends or relatives who do not have family to assist them.” 

Enhanced health care and healthier lifestyles have extended the average life span of Americans. In 1946, the beginning year of the Boomer generation, the average life span was 66.7; in 2024, it is now at the cusp of 80. We are living longer and are mostly healthier, but the unintended consequence is that we are also smack dab in the middle of what I call the “caregiving continuum.” 

The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCIC) reports that fifty-three million Americans are in the caregiver role as we speak. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) states that about half of them are Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964, making them between 60 and 78 years old. The Family Caregiver Alliance notes that 75 percent are women, and that 60 percent of caregivers still work full- or part-time, spreading themselves even thinner. 

Caregiving the first time 

Twice in my life, I and my immediate family have been cast in the role of caregiver. The first was in 1997 when I, my wife, two teens and a three-year old moved my 82-year-old mother into our Peachtree City home to care for her for the last two years of her life. My dad passed away in 1981. 

Avoiding a Crisis. It started as a Thanksgiving holiday visit and morphed into a permanent stay when I went to pick her up from my brother’s house in Clayton, N.C. Upon arriving, I could see the toll several years of caregiving had taken on him and his wife.   

My wife and I had previously talked about the possibility of moving my mother to our home, so that afternoon I offered the option to them, and they reluctantly accepted. The decision to move her to our home under planned conditions and not in crisis mode turned out to be prescient. Shortly after we completed the move, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she passed away soon after that.  

A little white lie. We told mom it was going to be just a two-week holiday visit, but the ruse worked and at the end of that time, we were able to persuade her how much our young family needed her. Experts point out that it can be difficult to persuade a parent that they need help – as our experience showed, it takes time and creativity.  

Finding room. Our modest three-bedroom, two-bath, 2,200 sq. ft. home needed an extra bedroom for Gramma. So, while she slept in our three-year-old son’s room and he with us, I put out a request for proposals. Four months later we were able to move her into a 350 sq. ft., ADA-compliant room with a full, private bathroom, complete with walk-in shower. We were then able to surround her with all her bedroom furniture and favorite things.  

Adjustments. We eventually brought in a hospital bed for her, which made it easier for her to get in and out of, and for therapists and medical staff to work. In addition, we added a smaller bed so one of us could spend the night with her if necessary.  

We found we needed more help so we hired Shirley, a friend of a friend of a friend, who was in between jobs and could come in as needed. Finding affordable, reliable outside help can be one of the most problematic issues caregivers face.  

Our children were also closely involved in “Gramma’s” care. The two teenagers spent lots of time with her and our three-year old son was her full-time playmate. Their active lives gave purpose to Mom’s day-to-day activities. She always had something to look forward to. 

On the fly. During my Marine Corps career, we lived by the adage that “Proper Prior Planning Prevents P_ss Poor Performance,” a philosophy that certainly applies to caregiving. Had we started detailed planning much earlier, it would have gone more smoothly.  

After Gramma fell the first time, in addition to the chair and bed alarms, we also installed a video camera, so that we could watch and hear her at night from a monitor in our room. I had the monitor on my bedside table, and I slept with one ear open. 

There were other domestic changes we had to make, such as my wife, Ellen, gladly giving full kitchen privileges to my mom. She loved to cook and clean, and taking care of a family was something she had done her whole life. Being able to do it again gave her a new spark of life.  

Ellen became her full-time caregiver, organizing her finances, her medical records, doctors’ appointments and other functions my mom could no longer manage. Ellen was magnificent in this role, and I will be forever grateful.  

We all benefited from the intertwining of these two worlds, but in retrospect, there were so many things we could have done to make life easier for all of us that I ultimately wrote a book to capture the lessons learned.  

Vogt agrees. “Yes, everyone should start earlier than later. Everyone’s situation is unique, and they need to know their options before they are in a crisis and must make rushed decisions. I do not think you can start too early.” 

The second time around 

Twenty-three years later, in the middle of Covid, my wife and I, by then retired, rearranged our lives again to care for her aging parents, while we also began dealing with our own age- and health-related ailments.   

We were living near Mobile, Ala. at that time when Ellen went to help her parents with shopping and other daily activities during that time of isolation and concern. It was then she observed new physical and mental limitations; her mother had to stop driving and her father had increasing mobility limitations. It was decision time again.  

I sold our house, put our furniture into storage and drove to Macon where we lived in a nearby apartment, close enough to visit and be available but not constantly in their space.  

Ultimately, Ellen, her parents and five siblings decided it would be best to sell the Macon house and move her parents into Ellen’s sister’s house in Athens. Like our previous experience with my mother, belongings had to be sold or given away and the house renovated with handicap- and space-related changes.  

We bought a house in Athens about 20 minutes from her sister so we could be close in case of emergency. We visited them often, got them to medical appointments and hosted them at our house for meals and visits, to aid her sister, who was still teaching full-time.  

You would think that having been through a similar situation with my mother, we would have had a clear idea how to proceed with Ellen’s parents; but each set of circumstances was so unique that it was impossible to have a universal template.  

The caregiving continuum 

Most of the time, the last thing a resolute caregiver considers is the impact it can have on their own physical and mental health. It will drain you.  

“I think caregivers in the Boomer generation struggle to reach out for help,” says Vogt. “I often hear from callers, ‘I have never asked for help.’ I wonder if Baby Boomers feel more obligated to do everything on their own rather than explore options for caregiver support.” 

In hindsight, Ellen remembers her reluctance to accept offers from friends to stay with Gramma and allow Ellen time to herself. This deprived Gramma of sharing her stories with new friends and friends getting to know her. 

In this respect, Boomers are at an advantage because caregiver support programs have been created in their lifetime, Vogt points out, and there has been more research conducted to determine how to support caregivers.  

The caregiving continuum is just that; a continuous sequence of elements, which, like a river, continues to flow but changes course over time and distance. Baby Boomers are at a point in their lives when, sooner than later, they will be the person in need of care. The question is, will Boomers be ready for the role reversal? They have been more apt to be the caregiver, not the care recipient. 

The key to a successful transition is to start planning for the inevitable right now, not tomorrow or next week. We know it is coming, so why not just accept it and be prepared, rather than react to crisis. We Boomers can lead by example, getting our affairs in order and then informing our potential caregivers about details.  

After my in-laws passed away in 2022, my wife and I moved from Athens to Fayetteville, where we have a son and daughter and grandchildren. We help them with their children now, in anticipation that one day they will be there to help us.  

My family’s experience is as unique as a fingerprint or DNA; there may be similarities to others, but none are ever exactly the same. As Mark Twain noted: “I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else… I will offer here, as a sound maxim, this: That we cannot reach old age by another man’s road.” 

Where are you on Caregiving Road? If you think you are not a caregiver or will never be, heed the words of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter: “There are only four kinds of people in the world – 

those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” 

You’re not alone 

There are vastly more resources available for caregivers today than there were twenty or thirty years ago, presenting both a blessing and a curse; there are so many resources that it can overwhelm a caregiver to a point of confusion. That is where people such as Megan Vogt and her colleagues are invaluable. 

“I tell people that they do not have to be a caregiver alone,” she advises. “I encourage caregivers to educate themselves on resources, ask for help from professionals as well as their community. I inform them that they would be surprised who in their life is willing to help. I remind them that getting help with small things, such as errands, can make an enormous difference. I assure them that our agency provides unbiased and accurate information, and we are happy to answer their questions without pushing them one way or another.” 

The following is by no means a complete list; however, it gives the reader a place to start.  

  • Northeast Georgia Aging and Disability Resource Connection, a federal and state-funded program, is described as a one-stop shop or “no wrong door” entry point, staffed with counselors who help caregivers, older adults and adults with disabilities navigate life changes and find resources to assist them with living a more self-sufficient life. Most of these services are provided through the statewide network of Area Agencies on Aging. Located at 305 Research Drive in Athens, a phone call will be your best first step: 706-583-2546 ext. 209; or 1-888-808-8020. 
  • The Athens Community Council on Aging is a private nonprofit that manages 14 aging service programs to 27 counties, including adulty day health, transportation, Meals on Wheels, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, caregiver support, the Center for Active Living for fitness and leisure classes, and Long-term Care Ombudsman services. Their newest service is the Dementia Resource Center, which will offer education, support, enrichment and care to demonstrate how full life can still be following a diagnosis. Learn about the full scope of their services at
  • Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers was created by the former first lady to support caregivers, both family and professional, through advocacy, education, research and services. Positing that “caregivers deserve robust systems of support that center the caregiver and their experience – not just the diagnosis of their care recipient,” RCI offers a Crisis Text Line, for free, 24/7 crisis counseling (Text TOUGH to 741741) and they offer “Manage your Stress,” a mini-course through the ShareCare Mental Wellbeing app. You can download it from the RCI website – Currently, they are piloting an expansion of their “Dealing with Dementia” training program to address the needs of African American and other culturally diverse caregivers.
  • AARP has an excellent free booklet entitled, “Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families.” It details the preparation, from starting the conversation, forming your team, planning, finding support, and determining how caregivers can care for themselves. I wish we’d had this when we cared for my mother and my in-laws. But the good news is that we have it now, and I plan to use it to set up my and my wife’s future care, not in crisis mode, but in planning mode. It’s also offered in Spanish and Chinese and for the Asian American, military and LGBTQ communities. You have three ways to get the guide: Download or request a print copy at or call AARP at 877-333-5885 and select option 1.  

Caring for yourself 

In simple terms, a caregiver is a person who tends to the needs or concerns of a person with short- or long-term limitations due to illness, injury or disability. There are two kinds of caregivers—those who are paid and those who are not. The former is called formal caregiving and the latter is called informal caregiving. Nearly 17% of the U.S. adult population provides unpaid care to an adult over the age of 50. More than 75% of these caregivers are women, and on average they spend almost an equivalent number of hours a week providing care as people traditionally spend at a full-time job. According to the AARP, family caregivers provide over $600 billion in unpaid care per year. Many of these caregivers are also employed or raising children of their own. Over 50% of caregivers are over 50-years-old. 

Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, caring for a loved one feels good. And it can make your relationship stronger. But the demands of caregiving also cause emotional and physical stress. It’s common to feel angry, frustrated, worn out or sad. And it’s common to feel alone. Caregiver stress can put caregivers at risk of changes in their own health.  

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t see how caregiving affects your own health and well-being. The signs of caregiver stress include: feeling burdened or worrying all the time, feeling constantly tired, sleeping too much or not enough, gaining or losing weight, becoming easily irked or angry, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, feeling sad most days, having frequent headaches or other pains or health problems, misusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medicines, missing your own medical appointments. The emotional and physical demands of caregiving can strain even the strongest person. Many resources and tools can help you care for your loved one and yourself. Make use of them. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else. 

To help manage caregiver stress: 

  • Ask for and accept help. Make a list of ways in which others can help you. Then let them choose how to help. Ideas include taking regular walks with the person you care for, cooking a meal for you and helping with medical appointments. 
  • Focus on what you can do. At times, you might feel like you’re not doing enough. But no one is a perfect caregiver. Believe that you’re doing the best you can. 
  • Set goals you can reach. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Make lists of what’s most important. Follow a daily routine. Say no to requests that are draining, such as hosting meals for holidays or other occasions. 
  • Get connected. Learn about caregiving resources in your area. There might be classes you can take. You might find caregiving services such as rides, meal delivery or house cleaning. 
  • Join a support group. People in support groups know what you’re dealing with. They can cheer you on and help you solve problems. A support group also can be a place to make new friends. 
  • Seek social support. Stay connected to family and friends who support you. Make time each week to visit with someone, even if it’s just a walk or a quick cup of coffee. 
  • Take care of your health. Find ways to sleep better. Move more on most days. Eat a healthy diet. Drink plenty of water.
  • Many caregivers have trouble sleeping. Good sleep is important for health. If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your health care professional.
  • See your health care professional. Get the vaccines you need and regular health screenings. Tell your health care professional that you’re a caregiver. Talk about worries or symptoms you have. 

For more information on caregiving: Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregivers, 

For more information on becoming a paid family caregiver see AARP: 

The author is a retired Marine, a writer, a musician, and a frequent contributor to Boom Magazine.

He has written a self-published memoir about caring for his 82-year-old mother and the positive impact she had on his young family’s life. But beyond that, he shares what they learned about caregiving for others in the Sandwich Generation who will care for older family members, possibly while still caring for children.  “Angel Kisses: Life with Gramma’ in the Sandwich Generation,” 

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