Multiple generations living in one household is nothing new. Throughout our history children, parents and grandparents have shared life together in the same home often out of financial necessity, other times out of convenience.

What is new is the number of children who are being parented by grandparents. In the 1980s there were 2 million children under 18 living in the home of a grandparent, now there are 4 million nationwide and the number is growing. In Michigan 152,400 children under the age of 18 currently live in homes where the householder is a grandparent. Of those, nearly 26,000 have no parent in the home.

Questions and Answers about Emergency Response Systems

Q:  My doctor said I should get a medical alert bracelet but I think he meant the button to push to call for help.  There are so many confusing terms and products, where do I start?


A:  It is confusing when so many different products have such similar names.  A medical alert or ID is generally defined as some piece of  jewelry, usually a bracelet or a tag on a neck chain, which can quickly identify to medical responders that an individual has a certain diagnosis that needs attention, ie. food or drug allergy, diabetes, or epilepsy, and this condition might be the cause for the person being unresponsive or having a seizure.  These IDs can be as simple as a metal bracelet with a medical symbol on it, all the way to something with an imbedded microchip that contains a person’s full medical and emergency contact information.

A colleague recently sent me a clear synopsis of how to recognize a stroke. Given that a friend had recently experienced one of these signs, it rang especially true for me.

In my friend’s situation, she had been talking to her husband while doing dishes; he was at the other end of the counter watching golf on TV. Responding to her in casual conversation, he began his response, and stopped. He started again, and stopped. She turned, he motioned with a worried look; only scattered partial words would come out. All motor skills were intact, but he couldn’t voice a simple sentence.

An American male born one hundred years ago could expect to live 49.6 years. The life expectancy of an American male born today is about 79 years, a full 30% increase in life span.

Isn’t that remarkable? Some of the increase is because of the magnificent technology developed since then, and some is because of antibiotics, but largest measure is because of vaccines, those little pokes most Americans received in the arms when they were young.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving & AARP, an estimated 44 million Americans age 18 and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities who live in the community. In most cases the care is provided by family members, and often the caregiver is living in the same residence.

It started small.

Rhonda’s mom needed help with household chores. “I was happy to pitch in. I didn’t think of myself as a caregiver at first, just a daughter helping her mom,” Rhonda says.

Over time, the quick stops after work turned into a daily before-and-after work routine.

“Gradually I found myself spending several hours a day helping mom with everything from paying bills and shopping to organizing her medicine and helping with personal things like getting dressed and help getting back to bed at night,” Rhonda says.

Questions and Answers About Aging and Driving

Q:  My children want me to stop driving.  I think I am doing fine and I have not had any tickets or accidents but they say it is only a matter of time.  What can I do to prove I am still a good driver?


A:  There might be nothing you can do to prove to your children you should still be driving if they have decided for some reason you should not.  There are things you can do for yourself, however, to ensure you are as safe as possible.  It is important to recognize that as we age, our eyesight can weaken, depth perception can change, and our reaction time can decrease.  If your children have specific concerns, you should try to address those with them.  Have an honest, forthright discussion about the pros and cons of continuing to drive.  Talk about what other options are available and if your children are willing to help with your transportation needs, for instance.