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Caring for aging parents can be expensive and stressful, but this NYC couple found a silver lining

NYC couple balances stress of caring for aging parents & children
NYC couple balances stress of caring for aging parents & children 03:39

NEW YORK -- Caring for aging parents can be stressful, expensive and tough to balance with a full-time job.

Experts say it can happen suddenly or slowly, but some couples in the so-called "sandwich generation" say the cost of caregiving has its rewards. 

The "sandwich generation"

Ravina and Vedesh Persaud are "sandwiched" between caring for their two young daughters and Ravina's aging parents in their Jamaica, Queens home.

Ravina's father has Parkinson's disease, which is an emotional struggle for the entire family. 

"It's really hard for him to even accept it, even to now. Those struggles we deal with on a day-to-day basis," she said. "They don't want to feel dependent on anything or anyone." 

Things get hectic quickly between work, her father's doctor's appointments and medications, and her daughters' homework and swimming lessons. 

System "just not made out to help elderly people"

The biggest struggle, she says, has been getting health benefits and proper care for her father, even though she also works in the senior living and care industry. 

"It's the system that's just not made out to help elderly people," said Persaud. "Recently, we have been able to kind of  navigate to get him services soon ... It's been a struggle for about five years ... It is a frustrating process, and I think in our culture a lot of our seniors aren't aware of all the benefits that they could receive." 

Still, the Persauds said there's a silver lining to having everyone under one roof. 

"I feel like there's a level of healthy co-dependency," said Vedesh Persaud. "Having the kids grow up seeing with their grandparents, I feel there's tremendous value there ... and they get to spend time with their grandkids."

"One word comes to mind for me. Patience. Lot's of it," he added.  

Nonprofits help make free and low-cost services available

While there are hurdles with state funding, community-based organizations like the Indo-Caribbean Alliance play a big role in providing free and low-cost services. 

"We offer them benefits like health insurance, cash assistance, SNAP benefits, filling out paperwork for DOB applications," said Bibi Nesa, a case manager for the nonprofit. "We have a legal assistant that handles anything legal, like transfer the deeds, make wills, power of attorney." 

Nesa said West Indian and Indo-Caribbean New Yorkers feel comfortable going to her and the nonprofit's legal team for help because there's a cultural trust. 

"If they become sick and they're not able to do these things, then it becomes a burden on the children," said Nesa. "When you're preparing to retire, you have to start these conversations." 

One in five New Yorkers, about 1.7 million people, is over the age of 60, according to the New York City Department for the Aging

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