It took me a few moments to understand what the old lady was telling me.
During a phone conversation – I was checking-in to make sure she was OK, she explained that she had been a little upset the day before when her son-in-law had been taken to hospital. He has cancer. He lives in a nursing home.
‘My daughter is in a nursing home too,’ she said.
This, older woman, well, I might as well as say old – she is in her late 90’s is managing to remain at home, independent, with support from carers and neighbours. She gets around her bungalow and once a week attends the bingo.
On bingo days she misses her water tablets.
Occasionally she wins some cash.
I reflected on what my patient had told me.
Surely, we can all agree that to be pre-deceased by your children is perhaps one of the most awful things a human can experience; how does this compare with the deterioration in their health while you are still hearty?
It is likely, particularly reflected in recent US and UK statistics relating to a decline in lifespan that more and more parents will live longer, healthier lives than their children and will both see their children become dependent, and, perhaps moving into care and even dying.
We are at a strange period of transition between the young and the old.
My son is frustrated at older people for their involvement in Brexit and the effect on his future; both my children see the damage done to our planet and wonder about their tomorrows.
The sandwich generation relates to those in their 60’s and 70’s who after raising children to independence, transition to supporting their ageing parents.
Most people I see in this situation don’t hesitate or reflect; it is what it is to have a family, to be human.
My parents left before I could become sandwiched.
What a bizarre inversion.