Your elderly mom, who’s still living on her own, was admitted to the hospital because she forgot to take her heart meds… again. Your teenaged daughter’s school just called because she’s been acting out in class, and your boss yelled at you for the third time this week after you missed several days of work while caring for your mother.
If this sounds familiar, welcome to the “Sandwich Generation”. Over two million Americans between the ages of 45 and 56 now find themselves trying to juggle a career, care for an aging parent, and raise kids. If you’re currently caught up in the Sandwich Generation, here are some proven ways to make it work.
Problems Facing the Sandwich Generation
The ranks of those caring for kids at home, and a senior parent in another home, have grown dramatically over the past 20 years because of smaller families (fewer siblings to help out), more women in the workforce, longer life expectancies, more seniors wanting to age in place at home, and couples waiting to have children until their 30s and 40s. Being in the Sandwich Generation can feel frustrating, stressful and overwhelming, which can lead to:
- Loneliness and isolation
- Guilt and resentment
- Feeling cheated out of career advancement opportunities
- Anxiety and depression
- Strained relationships with family members of all ages
- Withdrawing from social activities
Most of these problems come from the fact your kids, parents and spouse are all competing for your finite amount of time, attention and affection. Now let’s consider some effective ways to better balance all their needs.
Take a Breath and Focus
Caregivers sometimes get caught up in the moment, and create a crisis in their own mind that’s not actually there. If neither your aging parent nor child are in any immediate or imminent danger, stop, take a deep breath, and focus on what’s most important. Not getting mom’s closet organized can wait another day if it means attending your child’s ballgame, so don’t overreact when it’s not called for. Literally doing some deep breathing exercises is also good for getting fresh oxygen to your brain, which helps calm you down and stay positive.
Involve Your Kid(s)
Why has your daughter been acting up again at school? Oftentimes, children of Sandwich Generation parents do so because they’re:
- Anxious and scared about changes in the family routine
- Sad that grandma or grandpa aren’t doing well
- Feeling ignored when your attention is focused elsewhere
What better way to overcome some of these feelings than to ask your child to help take care of their grandparent in an age-appropriate way? For example, if Johnny or Susie are little, have them serve some juice to grandma, or read a book with her. If they’re older, they can help clean house, prepare meals and do laundry, or, better yet, if they have a driver’s license, they can help transport grandma to appointments. Doing so will make your child feel wanted, loved and needed, and give you a much-deserved break!
Stop Feeling Guilty
Guilt is one of the more common human emotions, and we like to feel guilty about everything. Learn to let it go when you’re torn between your kids and parents. And then there’s that work project that you’ve fallen behind on. There’s only one of you, and so many hours in a day. You’ll be a better caregiver, parent and employee if you take time to exercise, socialize, eat right and get plenty of sleep. Prioritize what needs to be done today, and leave the rest for tomorrow. And, balance your time evenly between your job, kids and aging parent.
Ask for Help
Trying to control everyone and everything around you will drive you to an early grave. Good leaders delegate responsibilities well, and show gratitude towards those who help them. Ask others for assistance, whether it’s your spouse, siblings, or a close friend. When it comes to specifically taking care of mom or dad, there are several reliable places to find a pair of hands, including:
- Volunteers in the community that assist seniors
- Adult daycare
- Senior transportation services
- Churches and other religious organizations
- Licensed professional in-home caregivers
An Extra Pair of Hands for Mom or Dad
If being a part of the Sandwich Generation is starting to wear you down, call Cranberry Home Care and we’ll step in and provide the care your aging parent needs. Our highly-trained and carefully-screened respite caregiver will serve as an extra pair of hands in your loved one’s home, while assisting them with light housework, personal hygiene, meal preparation, transportation, medication reminders and companionship; all in a flexibly tailored package to put your mind at-ease. We love helping families in the Middleboro, MA, area keep their senior loved ones where they want to be- reliably, affordably and safely. To learn more about the senior home care services available through Cranberry Home Care, or to schedule an in-home consultation today, visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!