Are you part of the sandwich generation? You know, those adults who are “sandwiched” between their elderly parents and their own children.
Sandwich generation caregivers are made up of people who are caring for their aging parents while also supporting their own children.
- This generation typically includes people in their 40s, 50s and sometimes 60s.
- Most of these individuals work outside the home.
- It is predominantly women who take on this caregiving role.
- The majority struggle to balance the demands that come from caring for so many.
According to a 2017 Pew research report, nearly half of those aged 40 to 60 who are caring for both their elderly parents and their children report extreme levels of stress. This stress takes a toll not only on personal relationships — 83 percent say relationships with their spouse, children and family are the top source of their stress — but also on their own well-being as they struggle to take better care of themselves.
Here are a few things sandwich generation caregivers can do to balance the tasks and manage the stress of caring for an aging parent while also caring for their own families.
- Hold weekly family meetings: Bring everyone together to discuss the family activities that are happening that week (and beyond). Plan out what needs to be accomplished and discuss each person’s responsibilities to chip in and help. Use this regular family meeting to improve communication and allow family members the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings without negative consequences.
- Get organized: There are only so many hours in the day and only so much time in which to give your attention to everyone who needs it. It’s important that you’re organized. Keep a calendar so that everyone can add their activities, appointments and events, especially those that need your extra attention (check your app store for shared family calendars that you can download). Make lists of daily tasks that need to be completed, and by whom, to ensure everything gets done. If the list becomes too long and too overwhelming, keep reading…
- Seek help from outside the family: Asking for help and support from friends and family can improve your ability to persevere during stressful times. However, that might only be a short-term solution.
If the stress and demands are still too much and you need additional help, you have options. FirstLight Home Care and our professional in-home caregivers are known for our companion and personal care that can help with your aging parents, but did you know that we also provide home care services for busy families? As hard-working parents juggling many responsibilities, sometimes you just need a little extra assistance with the day-to-day. We can customize a solution just for you. Our local caregivers can help you with many including:
- Running errands, such as picking up dry cleaning and prescriptions
- Laundry and light housekeeping
- Grocery shopping, meal planning and meal preparation
- Transportation to and from doctors’ appointments
- Organizing mail and paperwork
- Find healthy ways to manage stress: Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities — taking a short walk, practicing meditation or talking things out with friends or a support group. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Recognize your stressors and focus on changing one behavior at a time.
- Take care of yourself: Self-care is very important when the demands of caregiving become too much. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity like walking, yoga, or swimming. Stay social and keep in contact with your friends and family members. These are some of our favorite ways to deal with caregiver stress.
No matter how hectic life gets, you need to take care of yourself — so that you have the mental and physical energy to care for both your parents and your children.
Share your self-care tips and suggestions in the comments below.
American Psychological Association www.apa.org
U.S. Administration on Aging: www.acl.gove