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Challenges of the Sandwich Generation

Here’s a term you might not be familiar with — the sandwich generation. It typically refers to the generation that cares for both children and aging parents.

Traditionally, the generation is made up of people in their thirties and forties. But with technology, advanced healthcare and a wide span of years during which parents decide to have children, the sandwich generation can include people in their twenties and fifties, maybe even sixties, in some cases. The Pew Research Center says, “Who is the sandwich generation? Its members are mostly middle-aged: 71% of this group is ages 40 to 59. An additional 19% are younger than 40 and 10% are age 60 or older.”

No matter what age you are, though, there is no doubt that sandwich generation caregivers experience some significant challenges.

Time is not on our side

There are only so many hours in the day, and so many days in the week. Even if you break that down into minutes, sandwich generation caregivers might still find themselves operating at a deficit. The senior parent in your life might need to see a specialist with limited availability twenty minutes before  your youngest is due to play the final game of the baseball season.

Both need rides, both need to be there on time or earlier, and both want you to be there with them. You can’t reschedule either activity, and your spouse is slated to be out of town for the week. Yes, you can probably find a ride for your baseball star, but you don’t know how your mother will feel after her appointment or how long the appointment will take, so you may not be able to make the game, even late.

Sometimes, even though you’ve planned better than an agent undertaking mission impossible, the situation is still very much impossible. You can’t be in two places at the same time, at least at this point in human evolution.

Money is finite

If you’ve ever been in the position of standing in the checkout line only to realize you didn’t have enough in the bank to cover the purchase and you weren’t sure whether you’d reached your credit limit on your card, then you know what it’s like to start sweating over finances. That’s the feeling many sandwich generation caregivers have when they are financially supporting children and parents. Twelve-year-old Jennifer needs braces, but 83-year-old dad needs prescriptions that Medicare doesn’t cover. Long-term care benefits are running out, and you haven’t even started thinking about pitching in to cover your oldest child’s college tuition this semester.   

While this scenario doesn’t fit everyone, even when aging family members bring with them enough to support themselves financially, cash flow can be a constant exercise in strategy, paperwork and patience. Budgeting requires careful attention to expected and unexpected life events. Factor in time for forms and payments to be processed, and you could start feeling like a harried business owner who has never taken a business course.

Attention is valuable

From your youngest tugging at your pant leg to your mother calling you from the other room, it’s pretty obvious you are needed. It seems like dad always wants to talk just as the kids are coming through the door from school. Why is it that whenever you try to read to your mother, your kids start duking it out in the living room? Maybe it’s more like your college-age kid is blowing up your phone with texts while your father is asking you again about tomorrow’s plans, while your high-school-age child wants to know what’s for dinner.

The more you look around, the more you see that you being there for the ones you love is greatly valued. But how do you manage to give everyone what they need without burning yourself out?

You are not alone

According to the Pew Research Center, “Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older).”

And, “…nearly four-in-ten (38%) say both their grown children and their parents rely on them for emotional support.”

If you feel exhausted half the time, this could be the reason why. And while these challenges are common, they can lead to caregiving fatigue, especially if you don’t have enough support. That’s not a road you want to travel. If you feel you’re headed in that direction, be sure to reach out. Friends, family, doctors, local agencies and other organizations are there to help you find an extra pair of hands, ears and wheels when you most need them.

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care, serving Prince William and Fauquier counties.


Northern Virginia population shows no signs of slowing

RICHMOND – Population is booming in Northern Virginia and shrinking in many rural localities in the southern and southwestern parts of the state, according to data released Thursday by the U.S Census Bureau.

The population of the city of Falls Church grew 5.2 percent between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, the data showed. That was more than any U.S. county with at least 10,000 residents. (The Census Bureau puts Virginia’s cities in the same geographic category as counties.)

Three other Virginia localities grew more than 3 percent over the past year: Loudoun County and Manassas Park near D.C., and New Kent County east of Richmond.

Since 2010, Loudoun County’s population has increased more than 27 percent, to more than 380,000. That percentage increase ranks fourth among all U.S. counties with at least 200,000 people.

The growth in Northern Virginia [intractive map] is largely due to large employers located there and in Washington, said Hamilton Lombard, research specialist at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, which worked with the U.S. Census Bureau on the population estimates.

“A lot of that is still commuters to D.C., but you have big job centers now in Northern Virginia by itself,” Lombard said. “Fairfax has more people in it than D.C. does.”

Since the census in April 2010, the population of Fairfax County has grown more than 6 percent, to almost 1.15 million, the Census Bureau’s estimates show. The District of Columbia has about 694,000 residents; however, its population has increased more than 15 percent since 2010.

Like the nation’s capital, Virginia’s state capital has shown robust growth after decades of population decline.

Since 2010, the population of the city of Richmond has increased more than 11 percent – more than the suburban counties of Chesterfield (less than 9) percent, Henrico (almost 7 percent) and Hanover (6 percent).

Lombard said Richmond’s turnaround reflects a national trend of more investment in cities.

“It had a higher vacancy rate, a lot of empty homes – it was losing population for decades,” Lombard said. “You get around to the time of the housing crisis, and a lot of people couldn’t buy; they had to rent. That also made Richmond more attractive, because they had more rentals. It’s quite remarkable how it’s turned around and started growing.”

Lombard attributed part of the growth to the redevelopment of historic properties.

“Virginia has a very generous tax credit system that encourages redeveloping historical buildings,” Lombard said. “That’s created a lot of new residential units and really pristine historic areas.”

Of Virginia’s 133 counties and cities, 78 gained population over the past year – and 71 have more residents now than in 2010. Fifteen localities have grown by more than 10 percent since 2010 – including Fredericksburg (17 percent), Prince William County (15 percent), James City County (12 percent) and Charlottesville (11 percent).

In contrast, 62 of Virginia’s localities – mostly in the south and southwestern regions of the state – have seen a decrease in residents since 2010. The population has fallen about 9 percent in Bath and Tazewell counties and almost 11 percent in Buchanan County and the city of Emporia.

August Wallmeyer, author of “The Extremes of Virginia,” which focuses on the economic development of the state’s rural areas, said there are many reasons for the population decrease, such as a lack of economic opportunity and a decline in “low tech” industries such as coal mining, tobacco farming and textile manufacturing.

“The principal reasons are lack of jobs and economic opportunity,” Wallmeyer said. “The jobs part, I think, is related primarily due to the poor public education system that has not prepared people in these areas for modern-day, information-centered, technological-type careers.”

Wallmeyer said younger people are fleeing these areas due to what he sees as poor public education systems that lag far behind the schools in the wealthier areas of the state.

“I quoted in my book the chancellor of Virginia’s community college system as saying that if you looked at the poorer areas of the state, and considered those areas as a state by themselves, in terms of educational attainment, they would be dead last in the nation,” Wallmeyer said, “while the rest of Virginia – the urban quarter, the wealthier part of Virginia – would rank No. 2 in the nation.”

Wallmeyer said efforts by federal and state governments and regional coalitions to improve the economy in these poorer, rural areas have been largely unsuccessful.

“There are some people I have talked to in my research, some public officials, who say, only half-jokingly, ‘In my little county, the last person to leave, please cut off the lights, because there’s nothing left,’” Wallmeyer said.

According to the latest data from the Census Bureau, Virginia remains the 12th most populous state with about 8.47 million residents. That is an increase of less than 6 percent since 2010 and less than 1 percent over the past year – about the same as the U.S. as a whole.

Lombard said one big takeaway from the new data is how much slower Virginia has grown this decade.

“We’re getting close to eight and a half million, but the growth rate we’re hitting annually is really the lowest it’s been since before the Great Depression,” Lombard said. “The country’s population has been gradually slowing down a little bit just because of the population aging, but Virginia has slowed down a lot more quickly than the rest of the country.”

As for predictions, Lombard expects more people will be living in Northern Virginia.

“By our projection, by 2040, half of Virginia’s population should live in Fredericksburg, or north of it,” Lombard said.

The children’s team at Sentara treats premature babies 24/7, keeping families close to home

Just as the weather breaks and it begins to grow warmer, the Women’s Health Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s team of doctors, nurses and staff are trading in their scrubs for tennis shoes.

It’s for the annual March of Dimes March for Babies walk.

It’s such a great way for all of us to celebrate, honor, and remember our babies with others who care so much about mother/baby health issues,” explains Florence Pullo, Interim Director for the Women’s Health Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, “Sentara actively participates in this campaign to emphasize how important we believe the health of mom and babies is and to unite the community in building a brighter future for all of us!”

It’s that dedication to teamwork and commitment to the smallest members of our community which is the cornerstone of everything that happens in the Women’s Health Center and is the foundation for Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s partnership with Children’s National Health System.

Children’s National is ranked number one for newborn intensive care in the U.S. News & World Report 2017-18 Best Children’s Hospital Survey.

“This partnership is a good thing for families and the community,” says Dr. Ashraf Afifi, MD, MPH. “The team from Children’s National offers their skills in both the full-term nursery and the intensive care nursey.”

Children’s National’s Neonatologist Dr. Afifi is the Medical Director of Neonatology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. He was named a “top doc” in the recent “Best Of” edition of Northern Virginia Magazine. Since 2014, he has led the team, which staffs the special care nursery, a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), providing expert care for the sick newborns of Woodbridge and the surrounding region.

“Sentara was looking for the skills and expertise of Children’s National on the ground. Right now, we keep the kids who are in need of neonatal intensive services in Sentara. However, if infants need extra help and support, we’ll stabilize them and a transport team flies or ambulances them to Children’s,” explains Dr. Afifi.

The Children’s team at Sentara consists of full-time, board-certified neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners for around the clock care.

“We are here 24/7. Not all specialty nurseries have this level of care around the clock. We do,” explains Children’s National NICU Nurse Practitioner, Rosemary O’Neill.

The 14-bed unit typically consists of six intensive care and eight step-down beds. As a Level II NICU, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is licensed to treat babies between 32 to 44 weeks of gestation and at least 1,500 grams or 3.3 pounds.

This partnership allows families to stay close to home as they deal with a premature baby.

“For our part, we want you to stay in the community, we have everything here. You don’t have to go elsewhere. We want to be full service for you. We’re trying to get the word out and inform more families because they’re not aware of those things,” explains O’Neill.

Last year there were 260 admissions to the intensive care nursery, which is reflective of how this collaborative approach has been effective and was needed by the community. Just over 15% of those babies were transferred to Children’s National for a higher level of care.

“This collaboration give families and caregivers more advanced technologies, more advanced diagnosis, more advanced devices,” says O’Neill. “Not only do we have access to Children’s National in D.C., but we also have access to all of Sentara’s resources to our south.”

Dr. Afifi agrees, citing the advancements in research and telemedicine.

“Super pediatric subspecialties, which are few and far between, we can now reach them by telemedicine. We can reach them from the comfort of the practitioner here at Sentara. For example, the peds pathology, endocrinology, cardiology –who will give the information and have the best advice.”

In the end, the partnership is a win for both the hospital and the community it serves.

“At the end of the day, you have a family caring for their child, they have their worries and anxieties for their child, will that child make it or not, how’s that child going to be, what will this child look like down the road in a year or two, having been born at 600 or 700 grams, all of this. Our team practicing here will definitely give them assurances and we can share all the numbers and statistics with them,” explains Dr. Afifi speaking to the team’s level of expertise.

It’s this commitment to the babies they serve and the families they get to know personally every day that motivates the team to participate in the March of Dimes walk. This year is no different as they’ll be part of the Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s March for Babies team on Sunday, April 29 at the Loy E. Harris Pavilion in Manassas.

Join the Sentara team and register for this family and dog-friendly event.

Winners of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Health & Human Services Award, ACTS continues to grow and help the community

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Virginia health rankings reveal disparities among regions

RICHMOND – The affluent suburbs of Northern Virginia are the healthiest communities in the state, and lower-income localities, especially in the southern and western parts of the commonwealth, have the most serious health problems, according to a recent study.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that for the third year in a row, Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington are the healthiest counties in Virginia. They share low rates of premature death and a high percentage of adults with education beyond high school.

But Petersburg, Emporia and Martinsville ranked lowest in the foundation’s eighth annual county health report. Those three localities all had high unemployment and high rates of child poverty – factors associated with poor health.

The rankings are based on health outcomes and health factors. Health outcomes include the length and quality of life; health factors include behaviors such as smoking, access to care, social and economic conditions and physical environment.

“A lot of it has to do with things we call social determinants of health,” said Bob Hicks, Virginia’s deputy commissioner for community health services. “Where there is high unemployment and where there are schools not performing and the kids aren’t educated to a certain level, we see these trends continuing in poor health outcomes.”

Hicks and his team at the Virginia Department of Health use the statistics from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to start conversations about communities’ health needs and to work with residents to best utilize resources.

“We require each of the local health directors to be involved in doing a community health assessment,” Hicks said. “Resources are always limited so the assessment results in a ranking by the stakeholders [in the community] of what they would like to see addressed.”

In Petersburg, the community health assessments have led to efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. In 2011, the city’s teen pregnancy rate was 101 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19. According to the most recent report, the rate has dropped to 87 pregnancies per 1,000 females in that age category.

However, not every locality is showing progress. In 2016, Hopewell was ranked 118th in Virginia. But in the most recent report, Hopewell dropped to 126th among the state’s 133 counties and cities. Among the factors: Thirty percent of Hopewell residents live in poverty, and more than half of the children there live in single-parent households.

“You’ll find those [inequities] all over the place,” said Chris Gordon, chief of staff for community and health services. “Even if you look at the high-ranking countries like Loudoun and Fairfax, you’re going to find disparities in equity.”

Seven percent of people living in Fairfax are in poverty. While that is a small percentage, more than 1 million people live in Fairfax – and so nearly 80,000 of them are living in poverty.

Hicks said he hopes the data will lead to improvement in health across the state. “That is really the goal – to give people the opportunity to live in a healthy community.”

Fire displaces 6 people in Manassas home

From Manassas fire and rescue: 

City of Manassas, VA . . . At 8:08 p.m. on March 19, Fire and Rescue units from the City of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Prince William County responded to a fire at9011 Centreville Road (Manassas Mobile Home Park) for a report of a mobile home fire.  First arriving units saw smoke rising from the roof of the home and crews were able to extinguish the fire.  The fire came from a bedroom in the home.  There were no injuries to the six occupants of the home. 

The City of Manassas Fire Marshal’s Office investigated the origin of the fire and determined that it started above the ceiling between the roof in the front bedroom.  It was ruled an accidental fire.  The cause was an improperly used extension cord.

The home has been posted as unsafe to occupy.  There were no working smoke alarms in the home.

Also in Woodbridge… 

From OWL Volunteer Fire Department: 

Woodbridge, VA March  18, 3:22 p.m. – Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters responded to the report of a townhouse 1870 BeeGee Court in Woodbridge.  Crews arrived within minutes and reported no smoke or fire showing.   

Crews entered thru the front door and found fire in the bedroom on the second floor.  The fire been smoldering for some time and had burned through the floor into the kitchen. The fire was under control within minutes.   

The incident is under investigation by the Prince William County Fire Marshal’s Office.  One family was displaced. Fire and Rescue units from OWL VFD, Dale City VFD, PWCDF&R, responded to the incident.

Winter weather delays and closings information for March 20 and 21, 2018

Here’s today’s OPM status. 

The Twitter list below will show closings, delays, and updates from Prince William County Public Schools, Stafford County Public Schools, Manassas City Public Schools, Manassas Park City Public Schools, Fredericksburg City Public Schools, Spotsylvania County Public Schools, King George County Public Schools, Northern Virginia Community College, Germanna Community College, George Mason University, Mary Washington University. 

This Twitter list below will show closings, delays, and updates posted by local governments in Prince William County, Stafford County, Spotsylvania County, King George County, Manassas City, Manassas Park, Fredericksburg City, Dumfries Town, Haymarket Town, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Fort Belvoir. 

How Ken Moorman, founder of Jirani Coffeehouse, helped bring to life ‘One Love,’ the coming 3-day Manassas arts festival

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