Parents Caregiving For Parents: Support For The Sandwich Generation

parents caregiving for parents support for the sandwich generation

Are you a member of The Sandwich Generation? If so, you are probably working full time, taking care of aging parents, and still serving in the role of mom or dad to children who still live at home. That’s a tough order.  

To put it in perspective, the American Psychological Association (APA) has reported that women in the Sandwich Generation feel more stress than any other group due to their exponential caregiver expectations. 

Adults taking care of their children and aging parents often feel pulled in two different directions: 

  • Do you answer the call from your aging parent or do you relax and enjoy the rest of your child’s recital? 
  • Should you reschedule your own doctor’s appointment again to honor a specialist appointment for your parents? 
  • Is it okay to leave a mom or dad with early-stage Alzheimer’s home alone for an hour or two to get the errands run as quickly as possible? Or will that end up in disaster? 

If you aren’t careful, you can burn out quickly, which has a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.  

The Sandwich Generation Needs All The Support It Can Get! 

Unfortunately, most caregivers prioritize everyone’s needs but their own, and this is the exact opposite of how it should be. When you aren’t healthy, happy, and taking care of yourself, you are simply not able to provide quality care to the ones you love.  

Don’t ever consider “taking care of yourself” to be a selfish act. It is a gift that keeps on giving to those who depend on you.  

So, in deep appreciation for all that you do to care for your parents and your children, we’ve compiled a list of ways to support yourself as a noble member of the Sandwich Generation. 

Implement a regular schedule of respite care 

Respite care means that you are free to take some hours, a day, or even multiple days off so you can honor your personal calendar appointments. At the very minimum, we recommend booking respite care once a week or, at the very least, once per month.  

If you have other family members or family friends interested in providing respite care, you can set up a SignUp Genius for free and have a regular rotation. Professional respite care is also available from licensed home care agencies in your area. 

Consider adult day care options 

Adult day care centers operate similarly to child day care centers. They provide a safe, fun, and interactive space for seniors to get together. Some even specialize in memory care, making them a safe place for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s.   

Read the AARP’s article, Adult Day Care: What Family Caregivers Need to Know, which provides a wonderful explanation of the service as well as how to find qualified adult day care options in your area. 

Join an in-person or online support group 

As this post goes to press, we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing ordinance. As a result, in-person support groups may not be an option for you. However, there are plenty of online support group options available. 

Our clients repeatedly comment on how much it has helped them to communicate with others who understand exactly what they’re going through. It makes you feel less alone. Plus, support groups give you the chance to get creative, expert, and “I’ve been there” ideas from people who are on the same journey as you. 

Click Here to view a long list of caregiver support groups to find one near you, including support groups for the LGBTQ caregiving community, or to join an online group. Professional therapists can also be a wonderful resource, helping you to manage stress and cultivate self-care tools as you navigate the hurdles along the caregiving way. 

If you’re part of the sandwich generation make time for the basic tenets of a healthy, active lifestyle 

Skipping meals, substituting healthy food for quick-and-dirty snacks, and putting off your daily exercise plan is the absolute worst thing you can do to support yourself. And, the same is true for your children and your parent(s). 

Here are some ideas our clients use to honor their health in addition to their caregiving duties: 

  • Have mom/dad over for a weekend afternoon and spend time making multiple, easy-to-store, and reheat meals for the week. Some can go home with your parent(s) and the rest remain in your fridge for easy dinners. 
  • Don’t have time to make food? Meal delivery services abound, so take advantage of them. You can have takeout delivered from your favorite restaurants via DoorDash or from meal boxes, like HelloFresh or Blue Apron
  • Exercise together using any one of a number of YouTube videos from famous instructors. Your parent(s) can do senior-centric exercises such as chair yoga or exercises with the walker, while you search for exercise programs designed for your interest and abilities. 
  • Take time each day to get outside and take a walk, look at the sky or the trees, spend some time in the garden, or simply sit on the porch sipping a cup to tea. 
  • Convert from readable to audible. If you’re an avid reader, utilize platforms such as Audible.com, so you can listen to the books while driving, cleaning, running errands, etc., that you don’t have time to sit down and read anymore.  

Make sure everyone is pulling their weight 

Remember when you put your five year old’s rain boots on, only to realize s/he had been able to put them on him/herself for two full years already? It may be time to take stock of who is capable of doing what to help out. 

  • Could a licensed teen/20-something take a turn taking his/her grandparent to the doctor? Or do the grocery shopping? Help out with dinner? 
  • Might your out-of-town/state family members take on the meal delivery coordination for your parents, which can easily be organized and paid for online? 
  • Are there extra household chores the kids can pick up to lighten your load now that you’re more actively involved in caring for their grandparents? 
  • Can other family members split or take over the adult day care or respite care bills to do their share since you do the majority of the physical, day-to-day, and logistical caregiving? 
  • Are you able to afford housekeeping help so you can spend more time relaxing at home? Even bi-monthly visits can yield extra free time for you. 
  • Have you considered using a part-time, senior caregiving service, with the costs split between your parents, yourself, and any sibling(s)?  

Learning to ask for help – or demand a fair share of help – is often essential to getting your support needs met.  

When You’re Ready For A Break

Are you looking for licensed respite care, home care, or other senior services provided by compassionate seniors in the comfort of your home – or your parent’s home? Schedule a free, in-home assessment with HomeAide Home Care

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