My grandmother lived in the same home with my family, which included her daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren. My other, paternal grandmother lived with her daughter and son-in-law and one grandchild. Growing up, this was the norm for me. Most of my friends did not have grandparents living with them, but for me it was just the way it was.
When I was a junior in high school (1977), my paternal grandmother became ill with what I later learned was colon cancer, went to the hospital and died. My mother’s mom was still in the family home when I went off to college. So there was really never a time that I did not live with her. Taking care of her, her taking care of me, caring for each other was just a fact of life that I never really gave a lot of thought to.
At some point between my junior and senior of high school, my grandmother had to go to a nursing home (a fate that also seemed normal). She hated it there, but accepted that “it was best.” She died there at the age of 89.
We never had family discussions around caregiving. But today, as our population ages, particularly in Maine, we are faced every day as individuals, as community members and as voters with a need to talk about caregiving. In this issue of My Generation, we have some personal stories, as well as an informative interview with U.S. Sen. Angus King (p *) . King has introduced legislation on many levels that will have an impact on how we take care of each other and ourselves as we age.
Some people very unexpectedly become caregivers of a spouse or family member when a sudden illness or accident occur. Many people find themselves in this type of situation with no warning. Read Diane Atwood’s story on page * on how a couple of our local neighbors have coped with such an experience.
This issue of My Generation magazine also features all of the details on the Senior Expo that is taking place at St Max’s Church in Scarborough on May 4. As boomers who often face with caregiving decisions for our own parents, we might be looking for information on resources, living options or services. I can tell you first hand, that this Expo is a great place to start your search. And, admission is free, there’s no registration, and there’s plenty of free parking. I hope to see you there!