Millions of people today are living in what is called the ‘sandwich generation’ – an age in which they are bringing up their own children while also caring for their aging parents. Being a caregiver for a parent or aging loved one is a tremendous honor, but one that also presents many challenges.
Jim Otremba, a licensed independent clinical social worker, stopped by Morning Air® recently to discuss the blessings, challenges, and importance of honoring our elders – especially in light of our Catholic faith.
“It is a great honor. But like a lot of life, it’s both blessing and burden,” Otremba said. “But when we offer up pain, when we offer up suffering, when we offer up difficulties in our life, it is an incredible prayer. We are called by our baptism to be light for each other. And we need each other, don’t we? We need each other to hold up that light of Christ in this world of darkness, and to really help take care of each other.”
And showing care, honor, and compassion for our elderly not only helps them, it is also an important witness for future generations.
“It’s a beautiful witness. And we need this witness, especially in this selfish society that we’re in,” said Otremba. “We really need a witness that says life is really about building the kingdom of God wherever we’re called to be. Whether we’re single, whether we’re married, whether we’re ordained or in consecrated religious life – whatever the vocation is, we’re called to holiness in that vocation. Some of us are called to take care of our parents, and that is our road to holiness.”
Otremba stressed that while caring for our elders is important, we also need to make sure we are properly caring for ourselves as well.
“We still need to have balance, he said. “We want to make sure the person who is caring for the elderly person is also taking care of their own needs, because that’s really important. Compassion fatigue is real. So we need the witness of caring, but we need the witness of self-care too. Jesus frequently retreated to be off with His Abba. He needed that in order to continue to minister and give of Himself.”
Morning Air host John Harper spent several years taking care of his mother before her death. Based on his experience, he suggested that we should not let our duty to honor our elders pass away with our parents, but should pray about how to use our new talents to bless others.
“There is this huge blessing, because now you have this brand new skill set,” John said. “Being a patient advocate for someone who is elderly, you certainly understand the medications, the healthcare system, how to deal with doctors. So you’ve got this skill set, and you don’t want to put it in a shoe box in the closet. How can I use it?”
Listen to the full conversation below:
Morning Air® can be heard weekdays from 6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Eastern/3:00 – 6:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.