Many adults today find themselves stuck in a stage sometimes called “the sandwich generation.” These adults are still raising their children, but are also caring for elderly parents living in their home.
November is National Family Caregivers Month, and this year’s theme is “Take Care To Give Care.” It’s easy to see why: caregiving for two groups can be stressful and difficult. Many men and women stuck in the middle suffer higher levels of stress and stress-related illnesses. According to the Caregiver Action Network, these adults are twice as likely to suffer depression.
Their message: Take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of others! Finding time for just you or for you and your partner is difficult.
Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Elderly Parents:
- Schedule a date night with your partner at least once per month. Your date doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner. Even taking a walk together is a nice way to take a break.
- Schedule time for yourself every week. This time might be your morning yoga or jog. Maybe it’s a hobby you love to do. Put this time on the calendar and make sure everyone knows that time slot is off limits.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are services that offer babysitting and elder care, and if you can’t afford those, consider turning to a neighbor or family member. Make a list of a few people you can call just for those times when everything goes wrong.
The Effect on Children
According to a 2009 National Alliance for Caregiving survey, more than one-third of caregiving families had children under age 18 living at home. The survey also showed that 1.3 million American children participated in caregiving activities. Studies have shown living with grandparents can have a positive effect on both the older and younger generations, but it can also cause stress for both groups.
Here are some tips for helping your children become a positive force in your parents’ lives (and vice versa):
- Balance their involvement. You, the parent, must find your own balance in caring for both groups. But as the parent to your children, you must also be watching that your children aren’t overburdened with care responsibilities. Children who take on roles helping care for their grandparents may be taking time away from school work, extracurricular activities, and even playtime. They may feel burdened by this, but afraid to speak up.
- Avoid assignments. Taking care of their grandparents isn’t the same as taking out the trash and should not be assigned the same as a household chore. By asking if they want to help, you give your children the option to say no. Praise them if they choose to assist, but avoid making them feel guilty when they don’t.
- Find kid-only time. Be sure your children don’t feel neglected as you work to care for your parents. Take time each week to play with your children, take them out, spend time with them alone, away from grandparents.
Questions about caring for elderly parents and children? Generations Family Practice offers comprehensive services so we can help you with everything from checkups and illness to therapy and skincare. Call us today to find out how we can assist you.