Saturday, December 31, 2016

Living with dementia: the sandwich generation

It's the last day of 2016, and as always I like to look back to see which of my posts have been most popular throughout this year.  I was surprised to see that this year the posts that have got really high hits have been the ones where I have written about my mother's dementia, and how I have been exploring some iPad apps with her to see how she reacts to them.  Dementia is of course a very common issue today: in the UK alone more than half a million elderly women are living with dementia, though it's not just a disease of the elderly, with around 50,000 sufferers below the age of 65, and it's not just a "Western" disease as the largest increases in dementia are currently in China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa.  Globally around 47 million people are living with dementia.

Dementia leads to memory loss, changes in behaviour, confusion and disorientation and difficulties in communicating and my mother is experiencing all of these things.  There are no treatments that can stop or slow down dementia, though mum has tried medication to help her live with the symptoms a little better.  Basically what we are looking at is that the disease will continue to get worse over time.

This summer, as many of you know, our daughter left university having finished her Master's.  Both our children are now working, which should be a time for us to take a bit of a breather financially and to start to save for retirement.  But as part of the "sandwich" generation, the generation that is caring for both children and parents, it's clear that my time and money will now need to be diverted into the care of my mother.  I am needing to think about relocating back to Europe at least for part of the year, and I'm not yet sure how to do this.  I've considered (and applied for) jobs in European schools and I've wondered how realistic it might be to work as a consultant, or to lead IB workshops and school visits for the time I will be in Europe.  At this point, I don't have any answers and I'm running out of ideas.  However what I do know is that thousands of my readers are based at schools in Europe - and that some of you might have some ideas or know of schools that are looking for someone to work part-time, or someone to run workshops, or someone to give advice and support about technology integration, someone who can support a school as it goes through the process of becoming PYP, or someone to introduce a culture of coaching.  If you are able to give me any information or any leads that I could follow up - please reach out to me and let me know.

Life has taught me that when one door closes a window often opens.  I know what I need to do now is to hang on in there until that window opens - even though where I am right now is a pretty dark place!

Let's see what 2017 brings. Happy New Year to you all!

Photo Credit: Pen Waggener Flickr via Compfight cc

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