GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - About 66 million Americans are now part of the Sandwich Generation, meaning they are responsible for the care of a spouse, relative or another loved one. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, nearly a third of these people are also still caring for their children. With women having kids later in life, and the life expectancy increasing, experts say more people are now pulling double-duty caregiving.
It was a typical evening stop for Mary Jo Van de Hei. On her way home from teaching school, she picked up her 90 year old father, Chet, from N.E.W Curative in Green Bay. That's where he attends an adult day program while she's at work.
"The burden that's taken off my shoulders is immense," Mary Jo commented.
It's been a daily routine for more than two years. That's when Mary Jo said her father moved in with her, her husband, and their 13 year old daughter, after her mother passed away.
Chet suffers from Alzheimer's, and while Mary Jo was reluctant about leaving him with other people, she said the added stress was starting to set in.
"I feel like I'm always spreading myself thin," she said. "Like I don't give enough time to my father. I don't give enough time to my husband. I don't give enough time to my children."
Mary Jo isn't alone. Millions of Americans find themselves caring for aging parents, while still raising their own children. That's why agencies, like N.E.W. Curative, have programs to help.
"Our whole goal is to make as much of a home-like environment as we possibly can so when people come here, they feel comfortable," said Diana Brown, Vice President of Program Services at N.E.W Curative.
The agency is now the largest provider of adult day services in the entire state, averaging about 120 participants daily.
Besides lightening the load for caregivers, Brown said it's about giving participants independence and a routine.
"We try to mix entertainment in there, fun activities," explained Brown. "If a person needs to rest for a little while, we can accommodate that."
For those pulling double duty, like Mary Jo, it's a home away from home for a loved one.
"I can't tell you how much it meant to me because my father has deserved this kind of a life and what they give him here is the socialization," she added. "If it wasn't for this program, I don't think I'd be able to be doing what we're doing now."
N.E.W Curative offers eight different adult day programs, some in their Green Bay facilities, and some in neighboring counties.
For more information about the programs, click here.