Are you an adult child caring for an aging parent? Do you have kids of your own who live at home and depend on you for care? If your answer to both of these questions is “yes,” you are one of our nation’s 22 million sandwich generation caregivers. It’s a phrase coined to describe the hectic lives of middle-aged adults who are sandwiched between the needs of an aging parent and the needs of their own children.
The Unique Stress of Sandwich Generation Caregivers
While caring for these two important generations of your family, you might also be working full- or part-time outside the home. This requires a balancing act that can create very high stress levels.
Sandwich generation caregivers often feel pulled in so many different directions that they aren’t performing well in any of their many roles: as a child, parent, employee, or spouse.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you aren’t alone. Pew Research Center tells us that one in every eight Americans aged 40 to 60 meets the definition of a sandwich generation caregiver. As our population continues to age, these numbers are expected to rise.
Navigating Sandwich Generation Caregiver Years
Here are a few tips that might help you juggle all the roles sandwich generation caregivers play.
1. Don’t be too proud to accept help
Our first tip is an important one: develop a support system. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You won’t be able to do it and may experience a medical crisis of your own if you won’t accept help.
While you might enjoy the entertainment that comes from carpool duties for your young children, can you ask for help with those stops a few nights a week? Some parents feel they are failing their child if they aren’t present for every activity and outing, but this isn’t the case.
The same holds true for the duties and tasks you assist your parent with. If they have to go for bloodwork one day and a physician appointment the next, can another friend or family member take them to the lab? That way you can be present for the physician appointment, which is usually more important.
Remind yourself that you won’t be sandwiched between these two generations forever, and setting realistic expectations for your current situation is vital.
2. Convenience services in your community
Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has given rise to many convenience services for busy families. From grocery stores that offer curbside pick-up or home delivery to restaurants that bring dinner right to your door, take time to explore those that are available near you.
If your senior loved one has a chronic health condition that requires frequent trips to their physician, ask if telehealth is available. These programs allow a patient’s vital information to be monitored from home, eliminating some of the trips to and from the physician’s office. It’s a timesaver for you and less wear and tear on your parent.
3. Get organized and stay organized
Caring for children and an aging parent often comes with an onslaught of paperwork and time-sensitive tasks. It can be overwhelming for even the most organized person. Creating a system that includes a master calendar will help.
You can sit down once or twice a week to look at the calendar ahead and plan what tasks must be accomplished each day. It will also allow you to identify days and times coming up where you will be overbooked and in need of support from a friend or family member.
As you are creating your weekly calendar, it’s also important to schedule some time for yourself. Even 15 minutes to meditate or taking a daily walk will help you take better care of you.
Respite Care at Sunrise
The role of dual caregiver isn’t easy. There will be times you need a break to relax and restore your own well-being. Respite care can provide you with a safe option for your parent when you need time out. Call Sunrise Senior Living to learn more about our short-term respite care services!
Source: Sunrise Senior Living