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I live in a "multi-senior household." I didn't even realize there was a term for it. The "multi" comes from the combination of me, my almost-90-year-old mother, and a senior beagle who rules us both.

I know many parents are in what is called the "sandwich generation" - referring to adults who are caring for their own children and also taking care of their own parent - three generations.

I think I am taking that to the extreme with my own children, grandchildren and mother. Four generations! 

Sandwich generation challenges

Caring for an aging parent is a blessing as well as a challenge. I cherish every day I have with my mother, and I am lucky to have her so close.

Having grown children and grandchildren in the same town is also a blessing - and sometimes a dance. Here are the challenges I have experienced:

Everybody wants your time

This is a good problem to have, certainly. But, it is difficult to spend time with each loved one without someone feeling that they are not seeing you enough.

My strength is not what it used to be

Carrying kids, groceries and packages used to be commonplace. Now, however, I struggle to do one of those 3 things. Some of you grandparents might pump iron - this grandma takes iron pills.

My stamina is not what it used to be

Chasing after little ones, going on trips to the zoo, walking up a hundred flights of stairs - I am getting tired just typing this. I have definitely worn down in the energy department.

You are learning new things while trying to remember the old ones

My mom is not tech-savvy, so I need to remember how to use some of the things we have always relied on: stamps for letters, home phone voice mail, and manual can openers to name a few.

Meanwhile, I am trying to keep pace with the new technology like navigation in my car. I recently bought a new vehicle and I miss my CD player. I know that probably makes me "old school"  - but I have some newer CDs I really love - not to mention that I received one of those CD holder / car visors for Christmas. 

Sandwich generation blessings

There are many wonderful things that go along with being part of a four-generation matriarchy. Here are just a few of those things I count when I count my blessings:

Hearing about history first-hand

I get to hear the first-hand account of so many things I either was not alive or too young to experience. I know people joke about their elders saying they "walked to school uphill - both ways." But, people of my mother's generation really did have it a lot harder than us in many ways. 

Things we take for granted like the electric refrigerator, disposable diapers and color television were all invented in my mom's childhood - and many were too expensive for the "ordinary" family to own.

Connecting the dots for my grandkids

A living great grandparent really helps my grandkids see that people do age. And we care for them. They might need canes or hearing aids but we love to be around them.

Learning that many things transcend age

Regardless of the generation, there are qualities that we all have - and want to practice. Kindness, patience and concern for someone other than yourself are a few. Children learn from seeing these things practiced by adults - and sometimes adults learn those things from their own children.

Humor is age and generation-less

Everyone has a sense of humor in my family. From my grandson telling us his first joke to my mother finding the laugh-out-loud humor in a movie. 

For the record - here is the 5 year-old's joke:
Question: Why don't bears wear socks?  Answer: Because they have bear (bare) feet.

I hope I adapt to change as well as my mother has when I am a nonagenarian. Yes, that is the term for someone in their 90's.

Sue Klein

Sue is a mom of two, grandmother of four and daughter to her own mother. She blogs about all things 'grandma.' ...

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