Ever wondered what an elderly person gets in the mail? I spend about 20 minutes a week going through my dad’s stuff, most of it junk. I never stopped until this past weekend to consider what actually is in there. Sorting the mail for both my parent, and occasionally for my kids, is part of the role of being a Sandwich Generation man.
The elderly have a special mix of mail that tells you a lot about American society, actually. So what kind of country are we? We are the kind of country that sends our oldest members:
- multiple envelopes from coupon aggregators (in his case, Valpak)
- statements and bills from supplemental health insurance and supplemental prescription drug benefits programs
- American Express solicitations (even though my father has a card)
- Invitations from social services agencies, sometimes in multiple languages (in his case, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, English and Russian respectively)
- Envelopes that say “Information about your plan’s home delivery pharmacy – Important Plan Information” – which åre solicitations to subscribe to new costly services
- Envelopes that say “Urgent information about your health plan’s benefits – Your Response is Required” – which is where they try to figure out if the bills they reluctantly paid can be pinned on another insurance company because of some kind of an accident
- Vacation solicitations from cruiselines
- Carter’s catalogs
- Local restaurant menus (The Sub-way and Pizza)
- Citi credit card solicitations – these guys send these to everyone
- More American Express solicitations
- Solicitations to take part in mailed surveys
- Coupons set designed to look like a newspapers
- GEICO solicitations that are sent to a loved one (in this case, my brother)
- Statements for services that were long ago canceled but I guess I didn’t cancel in triplicate. In his case, NJ EzPass.
- Yet another cruise line solicitation, this time from Norwegian Cruise Lines
- Notifications from companies like Remedy Partners, which is a third party that was the overall care manager during his hospital stay that they got money from Medicare for that. Which based on the level of coordination I saw, should be coming to me instead.
- Coupons and now hiring notifications from Domino’s Pizza / Now Hiring. That would be interesting
- A second Globe Direct mailing with home-related offers and coupons
- Official notifications of Medicare from what they approved and denied over the past 3 months. It’s actually somewhat useful, which as you can see, really surprises me.
Plus, my father received a jury summons.
This one should be interesting! I’m sure there’s an exclusion for people who can’t quite get out of the house. I’ll work on that for him before more mail comes in…
Although it has been months since I last posted, it’s not because I haven’t written. It’s also not for lack of subject matter. Over the past 4 months, the highlights include my father breaking his hip, needing surgery, then also needing a pacemaker, then surviving nearly 2 weeks in the hospital/ICU, 6 weeks in rehab where many days I thought his stubbornness against instruction would overwhelm his stubbornness to live, his finally moving back to his apartment, re-adjusting to some new limitations , then me having to adjust to him at a different (that is, lower) level, and the associated adjustments my family had to make.
As I mentioned, I have been writing. Because I have a tiny audience on this blog, I’m sort of doing it for myself anyway. One main point of the Sandwiched Man blog is to give myself an outlet to process and express events and my own reactions during such an intense time. Some people are able to do this out loud, the first time, and I admire those people – but that’s not me. I often think or say things and shortly afterward think, “Yeah, I didn’t really mean that.” With the spoken word you can’t take things back.
The irony is that the more intense the time, the harder it is to find the time to write. Or the energy. Maintaining a blog requires a lot of energy. Sometimes polishing a bullet point list or scribbling about emotions costs more energy than gained by the zen it can create. So, I’ve been scribbling without really writing. They’re not really the same thing.
But here I am again, stringing sentences together.
I have to admit that a big reason why is unsolicited feedback this past week from two different people: a work colleague from 8 years ago, and a very,very distant family member. They both told me that they loved reading this. It really touched me that they said that. The second one told me at the Park Grill right next to the skating rink in Millenium Park in Chicago where I took this selfie. As is true of most people who take selfies, I am not immune to flattery. That it came from people who didn’t realize that I hadn’t written in a while is not perfect. But — I’ll take it.
As I mentioned, I do have a lot of material stored up for sharing the story of getting through this particular scare. It was an intense experience on which I’ve come out the other side. Or, at least, the other side this time. I realize more and more that as my father goes through repeated incidents that would finish off most people his age, it does take something out him.
Also, this is the Sandwiched Man blog, which is about being a Sandwich Generation man and therefore a different kind of caregiver than most with a parent this age. So, I also have stories about my family during this time, and in particular about trying to remain a father while also being a good son.
So, the blog is back. I’m looking forward to getting back to real writing.