Empowering the sandwich generation: navigating your parent’s diagnosis

I want to delve into a topic that’s close to my heart – the emotional rollercoaster when a parent receives a serious illness diagnosis.

Why this topic?

Well, it’s one of those defining moments when we find ourselves stepping into the role of the Sandwich Generation. This is a role many of us share: juggling our own families and the care of our ageing parents.

The shocking diagnosis

It’s such a clear memory etched in my mind – that moment when I received the call from my parents, confirming that my Mum had been formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

I had known it in my head and my heart, but the reality of the diagnosis hit me like a tidal wave. We had that conversation in the evening, after putting the kids to bed – that was a good thing as looking back, I shudder to think how I would have coped with having the chat in the middle of the chaotic afternoon with my 5, 3, and 1-year-olds. Can anyone else relate?

All of this plus sleep deprivation was a lot to take in. After another night of broken sleep, I had a big programme board presentation to deliver the next morning, which I did in a total daze.

I don’t even remember how the presentation went but I remember leaving work afterwards to go for a walk and get my head round things, grateful for the mental space before driving home to pick up the kids from nursery and school.

Unique reactions, shared journey

Last week, I spoke with my dad about our reactions to the diagnosis. For him, it was more of a confirmation, as he had already suspected it. He didn’t have the big emotional upheaval I experienced.

What I learnt is there’s no one-size-fits-all reaction to a parent’s serious diagnosis. We’re all different, and whatever you’re feeling right now is entirely valid. Your thoughts and emotions are not wrong, and it’s crucial to find a supportive community or someone who can listen without judgement

You’re not alone, strength in sharing

If you’re going through this right now, remember, you’re not alone. Join the conversation and share your experiences. Let’s support each other through this journey. Comment below or connect with me privately

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