Carolina Impact, Season 7: Episode 8 – The Sandwich Generation

Carolina Impact, Season 7: Episode 8 – The Sandwich Generation


– [Narrator] This is
production of of PBS Charlotte. – [Todd] If you hang out
with Gus and Carroll Walton on just about any
Saturday morning, you’ll understand why
Carroll says the nonstop pace is more like – [Carroll] Controlled chaos! I guess right here. – [Todd] They start the
day by eating breakfast at Tryon House on East
Exmore Street in Charlotte. Gus says for the kids,
it’s already a tradition. – During the week I’ll say
eggs and grits, eggs and grits! And we’re like no,
that’s Saturday. – [Todd] The boys
are very young. Wade is three and a half, and twins Wesley and
Johnny are just two. So after breakfast,
they of course have to let off a little steam. – We get our wiggles
out after breakfast. (laughs) – [Todd] Hop back in the van. – What are you doing? – [Gus] I’m taking your picture. – [Todd] And then head
to their next stop. The grocery store. (upbeat music) Then it’s back home. – [Gus] You wanna
take the bananas? – [Todd] To put
the groceries away – [Gus] Here you
can carry this one. – [Todd] And squeeze
in a quick break. – Wade helps me keep an
eye on the other ones, don’t you bud? – [Todd] All of this back
and forth before noon. And the trips are not over yet. – [Carroll] It’s a lot
of coming and going on a Saturday morning,
isn’t it boys? – Driving around with three
children under the age of five to breakfast,
then the grocery store, and then back home
for a little playtime will by anyone’s definition
be a busy Saturday morning, but believe it or
not, Carroll says the most challenging stop is
the one that comes next. (traffic) – [Carroll] Where’s Coach,
do you see Coach on the wall where’s his picture? Can you find Coach? Where is he? – [Kid] Right there!
– [Carroll] Right there! – [Kid] That’s Coach! – [Todd] Coach is Carroll’s dad. And every Saturday
morning after breakfast and all of those errands, the family stops by to visit him at his retirement care
facility, Waltonwood Cotswold in Charlotte. For the boys it’s everything. After all, what child wouldn’t
love a visit with granddad? Sitting outside, eating
ice cream or wearing it. And playing in the fountain. For Carroll, it’s so much more. – It’s everything. Our lives are crazy in terms
of schedule during the week, and it’s hard to find
times to get together. – [Todd] But life changed
for her father Larry in a devastating and
painful way this year, when he lost his second wife
and Carroll’s stepmom Betty to cancer. – When she died it
was terrible, but then weeks and months afterward
that house meant nothing to me. – [Todd] Larry didn’t
want to stay in his house, but he also couldn’t
stay, at least not alone. Betty’s care for him disguised
Larry’s cognitive decline, especially with
short term memory. – He couldn’t tell you
if he ate breakfast that morning sometimes, and he couldn’t tell ya if
he’d taken his medicine. – [Todd] Suddenly Carroll
and her siblings were thrown into a world of uncertainty. – We had to figure out what
we needed in terms of care. – [Todd] The process
was overwhelming. Carroll’s sister
Louise is a doctor, and often took the lead
in determining care for their father. He even lived with
her for a short time. But eventually, Louise’s
co-worker suggested getting a Care Coordinator. – We offer a free
consultation where we come and we meet face to
face if possible, with children, family
members, friends, whomever may be
concerned, and the person who’s facing some challenges
around care needs. – [Todd] Cindy Holstetler
is with Care Weavers. It’s a growing industry
where healthcare advocates find the best resources
for older adults in need of care. – What we do is we
draw up a plan of care and a recommendation
for services that we think we can provide, that will benefit the
client and the family. – [Todd] Those families
like Carroll and Gus are part of a growing
trend in America called the sandwich generation, a middle-aged population
supporting aging parents, while also caring for
their own children. The Pew Research Center
reports nearly half of American adults in their
40’s and 50’s have a parent 65 or older, and are either
raising a young child or financially
supporting a grown child. Healthcare coordinators
work to remove a lot of that
responsibility and stress, by researching and asking
the tough questions. Like in Larry’s case, when
he needed a place to live. – So for me as a nurse, one
of the first things I wanna look at is what does
the quality of care look like at your facility? And how do I know that
you’re doing a good job? – [Todd] Care coordinators
may also accompany clients to doctors appointments,
and provide companionship. Carroll says it’s been hard
to see her father decline. Her kids call him Coach because
he used to coach football. But he’s also a Vietnam veteran, an author of two books, and a retired neural surgeon. The experience had
been so moving, she shared her feelings
in a blog called Care Giving Goes Both
Ways For Older Parents. And that hits close to
home for Carroll and Gus, who had their children
later in life. She wants others to learn
from her experience, that aging parents must be
transparent with their children about their health. – It really does
help for them to help prepare their children, and for them to have
their ducks in a row. Even to the smallest detail. – [Todd] Carroll is doing
the best that she can handling this delicate balance
between two generations. – [Carroll] And he’s
at the end in his mind, but for me and my boys
its just the beginning and we want it to last
as long as it can, as comfortably as it can. – [Todd] And while Larry
focuses on this next generation, a healthcare coordinator
has removed a lot of the stress for
Caroll and her siblings, which has made it easier
for her to focus on being a mom, and a daughter. For Carolina IMPACT, I’m
Todd Wallace reporting.

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