Caregiver Describes Being Pulled In Two Different Directions

Megan Ray  |  April 6, 2012

Caregivers can often feel like they're being pulled in two different directions, especially if they have young kids at home to go along with their aging parent. That was the case with Alicia Beckett, whose mother Beverly Gaines is a resident at Sunrise Senior Living in Cobb County, Georgia.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently profiled Beckett's story as typical of many members of the "sandwich generation," which describes people who are caring for both younger and older relatives. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are more than 24 million people who fall into this category.

Beckett made the decision to put her mother into an assisted living facility as Gaines' Alzheimer's disease got progressively worse. Beckett had two children already and had just given birth to a third in 2007 when she decided it was time to move her mother into an elder care community. Gaines had begun calling multiple times per day in a panic, believing that she had lost her money. Beckett says she also began ordering multiple magazine subscriptions, believed she had a job that she didn't and was arrested for shoplifting.

At that point, it was clear that Gaines needed professional Alzheimer's care, and this helped decrease the burden on Beckett, who was caring for a newborn infant at the time. While the challenges of being a caregiver never really go away, having a support team at the senior care community allowed Beckett to juggle both sets of responsibilities more easily.

Beckett described a familiar situations for many caregivers - where the situation requires her to be in two places at once. One day, Beckett received a call that her mother had fallen out of her wheelchair. Unfortunately, Beckett had to pick her son up from school at the time.

"It was like, 'Here's this feeling again: I need to be two people to be where I need to be,'" she said.

Fortunately, Gaines suffered no injuries and the staff was able to tend to the senior until Beckett arrived.

Despite the stress, Beckett tells the news source that caregiving is an important responsibility to her.

"My mom was always there for me," said Beckett. "She did everything for me. It's now my turn to take care of her. But it’s hard because no matter what you do, she won’t get better. All I can do is help her be safe and comfortable."