Like many women today I am part of the so-called sandwich generation – caught in the middle between the need to look after elderly relatives, my own children and now, increasingly, their children.
So I read with interest this account in the Daily Mail.
What I felt most, however, was not sympathy for the hard-pressed mum in the middle but surprise that her mother’s carers had on several occasions fed the old dear sandwiches made from mouldy bread.
I have power of attorney for my 93-year-old uncle – the sole survivor of those in my family who lived through the last war. Now housebound following a stroke, heart attack and a long stay in hospital where he caught a series of life-threatening bugs but still, somehow, pulled through, he has carers coming in four times a day.
They do his washing, change his sheets, see to his catheter, get him up, put him to bed, make sure he takes his medicines, wash him, shave him, make him cups of tea and give him three meals. It costs – but it’s still cheaper than going into a care home which is something he refuses to consider anyway.
I am grateful that I am not expected to perform any of the above tasks but making sure that there is always enough food in the fridge and freezer is a constant worry, especially since I live a one and half hour drive away.
The main problems are caused by use-by or best before dates. The carers have been trained never to use anything that is out of time. Never mind that the tomatoes look, feel and smell fine. Ditto the ham slices. Or the apples. Or the cheese.
If something’s past the best before or use by date, it goes in the bin.
I’ve taken to unwrapping as much as possible so that they are forced to use their eyes, noses and commonsense. But that doesn’t work for everything.
They won’t even use stale bread for toast – let alone for sandwiches.