The Department of Health and Human Services declares each July as “Purposeful Parenting” Awareness Month.

The original focus for the purposeful parenting recognition was to emphasize the importance of open communication with our youth while supporting and rearing their need for independence.

Though, in recent years, the responsibilities and culture of purposeful parenting have evolved. As with many aspects of our evolving day-to-day culture, parenting roles have also taken on many different levels of caretaking and responsibility. As an example, we often see scenarios of grandparents taking on sole parenting roles of their young grandchildren; as in certain circumstances, the biological parents are incapable of parenting. Additionally, in multiple scenarios, parents are not only in the role of parenting their children, but also responsible for parenting their own parents and or in-laws. This scenario, often termed the “sandwich generation,” has become more relevant as our elder generations are living longer.

For clarity, Wikipedia defines the “sandwich generation” culture as middle-aged adults who are required to care for both their aging parents while also parenting their own children. An equation, which can happen to any adult whose parents and children need physical, emotional, and psychological support, simultaneously.

According to a Mass Mutual State of the American Family study, in 2018, 55 percent of working adults fell under the umbrella of the sandwich generation; being required to perform chores for parents and/or in-laws, while taking care of their own young children.

Further, 47 percent, on average, spent two hours per day caring for parents and/ or in-laws, with 31-percent of those studied being financially responsible for their elders, while also being financially responsible for their own children.

As one can imagine, being part of this multigenerational calculation, playing the role of a caregiver for family members, both younger and older could quickly become overwhelming. So, what might be available to help with the day-to-day management of aging parents who need our attention at the same time our young children do?

While depending on the circumstances of the elder family members, the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) hosts an Adult Day Health Center to provide comprehensive care for aging seniors. Located in Kissimmee in a secure environment of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Health Center building, the location provides daily, supervised activities and nutritional lunches for seniors.

The Adult Day Health Center’s goal is not only to provide a socially, safe and healthy atmosphere to support seniors, but also a place of respite for their caregivers; and in this case, caregivers who may be managing the daunting responsibilities of providing care for familial generations.

The center can give caregiving family members free time for work, errands, and to care for themselves or other family members while knowing their parents or in-laws are in a safe environment.

Many seniors who utilize our adult day health services have varying illnesses such as stroke, Alzheimer’s, related dementias, or even Parkinson’s disease. Likewise, many families may have objections to nursing home placement caused by financial or cultural reasons, so our Adult Day Health Center services can fill an important need for those families.

Further, the center gives seniors an opportunity to participate in activities while socializing with others in a secure setting designed to help maintain and/or improve their functional level.

Though the center is for daytime attendance only, with participation around 78 clients per day depending on the varying levels and needs of care, our services enable clients to stay active, remain productive and enjoy an improved quality of life.

For families falling into the sandwich generation scenario, requiring a balance of work, education and childcare management on a daily basis, our center can enable parents to care for all of their loved ones at home, without costly caregiving measures. Further, as with most of the OCOA services, an intake and assessment with a Case Manager determines the level of need and eligibility.

If you or someone you know falls into the generation of providing care for multiple generations, call 407-483-1494, for further information about our Adult Day Health Center programs.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Health Center was made possible by a generous grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Normal hours of operation include Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Though hours of operation and occupancy have been reduced at the present to manage the safety of our seniors during COVID-19.

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Published Tuesday, July 7, 2020