Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grandparents as Caregivers and the Sandwich Generation

In a junior high school in the heart of the Bronx 15 years ago, nearly half of the African American students were being raised by their grandparents. Nobody asked why, nor was this alarming to any of the teachers or other students. While this anecdote isn’t the norm, the number of children being raised by their grandparents is growing. There are now about nearly 6 million children living in a grandparent’s house in the United States, a growth of over 50% from just 10 years ago.

                Traditionally, grandparents take charge of children in cases of illness, parental abandonment, teen pregnancies, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, death of a parent, child abuse and neglect, poverty and divorce. The recession of the last few years has increased the number of parents who are not able to provide for their children and since over 70% of the grandparents taking care of children own their home, most baby boomers are better off financially than the rest of the population, at least in the time being. However, in homes with only the grandmother as the caregiver, the average income is around $20,000 a year.

It’s hard to overstate the effect that raising children can have on a population that already has to deal with health concerns and planning for or entering retirement. With 20% of them living in poverty, some are unable to retire or have to retire later in order to make ends meet. When the need for grandparents being the caretakers comes suddenly, older adults do not have time to plan for the proper care or the financial logistics of taking care of a child. Many do not have power of attorney to make decisions for the child. Educational and medical consent laws differ by state. If the household has not had any children living in it for a long time, it may not be safe for small children. These are issues that may not be in the mind of an overwhelmed grandparent.

In a time when the “sandwich generation,” –characterized by middle age parents also taking care of their parents– is mentioned as a growing social problem, the issue of grandparents as caregivers is also a serious one.  There aren’t many programs aimed at helping them. Exacerbating the problem is that custodial grandparents tend to be on the younger end, and therefore are still at an age when they could be working themselves, creating a problem of child care. Even worse, a new trend is that of the “club sandwich,” described as people in their 50s and 60s who are tasked with taking care of three generations, and are stuck between their grandchildren, adult children and aging parents. The feeling of being closed-in from so many directions can lead to depression. There is a page on Facebook titled “Red Button Presents: The Sandwich Generation Discussion.” The administrator, who was part of the sandwich generation herself, did not have time to continue running the page and it has fallen into disuse. This small example shows how little time we may have for the things we like to do once we have to take care of another person.

One option for people in the sandwich generation with elderly parents is an adult day health care program, where their loved one can be picked up in the morning, spend the day at the day care facility, and be taken back home in the afternoon. This could alleviate the stress of having to care for multiple family members, especially if they are of very different ages. Home care services may also help, depending on the level of need. When children are not in school or still too young for it, a caregiving grandparent may get help from a child care program. Research shows that a child’s attachment to a parent or guardian will not be negatively affected by being in child day care as long as they have a loving caregiver.

According to a survey done by, 69% of caregivers say that caring for a loved one is their biggest source of stress. 3 in 4 caregivers have had to change jobs to better deal with their circumstances There are few programs to help those caring for their grandchildren or children and elderly parents. This CNN Money has a good list of online resources:

Additionally, there is legal, financial and caregiving support information for grandparents raising children here:

The New York City Department for the Aging has a Grandparent Resource Center:

                Here at Isabella Geriatric Center, we have Adult Day Health Care, Home Care and Child Day Care, all of which you can find at under the “Programs” tab.

Image originally hosted at


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Free Mammogram Screening on June 22, 2012

Visit Isabella on Friday, June 22, 2012  Starting at 8 am for a free mammogram screening. The screening Van will park in front of 515 Audubon Avenue, New York, NY 10040


All insurance plans accepted. Co-payments and deductibles are waived. FREE for uninsured women 40 and older. An appointment is necessary. Please call 1-800-564-6868
(Excerpt from
"Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread... Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Donate an old MP3 Player and help bring healing music to our residents' lives

Music connects us…It’s a universal language

When music brings a smile, the tap of a foot, a clap or even a tear, a connection has been made!

Research has shown that music has a profound effect on the body and psyche. Particularly, it provides an excellent means by which to reach those residents who suffer from Alzheimer's and other dementias.

Please Donate New or Used MP3 Players/iPods.  

Your old or unused MP3 players could bring healing music to the lives of our residents.

By creating individualized playlists we can provide culturally relevant music, conjure memories of the past and promote individual expression.

For more information please call 212-342-9539.

Please drop donations off Monday through Friday between 9am and 5 pm at Isabella's Marketing Department located at 525 Audubon Avenue, New York, NY 10040.  
 During all other times you can leave your donation at our Security desk (at 515 Audubon Avenue)

2012 Edward J. McFadden Scholarship Awards

On the evening of Thursday, May 17, 2012 Isabella Geriatric Center celebrated the 15th Annual Edward J. McFadden Scholarship Awards Dinner.  The Edward J. McFadden Scholarship Fund was established by the Isabella Foundation, Inc., an affiliate of Isabella Geriatric Center, to benefit community youth.  

The fund provides college scholarships to outstanding students who reside in the greater Washington Heights/Inwood Community and have participated in voluntary community service. Students applying for this award must be current high school seniors living in the community of Washington Heights/Inwood (North of 155th Street to the tip of Manhattan) attending a school in NYC. 

Applicants for the scholarship must submit a written application, transcripts, letters of reference and an essay describing their community involvement and what it means to them.  In addition, the Scholarship Selection Committee must interview semi-finalists.  This year's committee consisted of six community leaders.  Councilman Robert Jackson, James Berlin of CB12, Carole Mulligan of CB12, Martin Collins from the office of Robert Jackson, and Andrew Rubinson of Grace Outreach, and Yokarina Duarte from the office of Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.Gold award winners earned a scholarship in the amount of $2,000.  The silver award winners earned a scholarship in the amount of $1,000. 

This year’s recipients are: (left to right).

Gold Award $2,000
Anna Ziemski, Bronx High School of Science
Dashiell Lora, Frederick Douglass Academy 
Katherine Muller, Bronx High School of Science 
Zoe Wolfe, Hunter College High School 
Isabel DaSilva, High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Cristian Abre├║, Central Park East High School                          

Silver Award $1,000
Geraldine Hernandez, Mother Cabrini High School 
Antonia Duran, Manhattan Center for Science
Mabel Torres, High School for Law and Public Service

Neighborhood students who will be high school seniors next year and who may wish to receive information on the scholarship may visit us at or emailing us at