Are you someone who is struggling to care for an aging parent while also caring for children of your own? You aren’t alone. Studies conducted by the Pew Research Center show that one in every eight Americans finds themselves in this situation. The phrase “sandwich generation” was coined to describe this group of family caregivers.
On top of juggling two very demanding roles, many family caregivers work at least part-time outside their home.
So what can you do to survive these difficult years?
We have a few tips we think will help.
4 Survival Tips for Sandwich Generation Caregivers in Michigan
- Accept Help: Adult children commonly believe that it is their duty and theirs alone to care for a parent who needs a helping hand. While it is a noble goal, it isn’t often a very realistic one. When friends and family members offer to help you, let them. It might be by running a few errands or sitting with your senior family member for a while so you can take a break. In addition to helping you out, it will allow loved ones to feel as if they are supporting you in a meaningful way. If you don’t have anyone close to you who can help, call the local Area Agency on Aging. They may know of volunteers who visit homebound seniors or be aware of assisted living communities that offer short-term respite
- Have Realistic Expectations: This is a difficult one for caregivers. But it is important to accept that you cannot be everything to everyone. You might need to make Easter dinner at your house a potluck instead of providing all of the food. Or buy treats from a local bakery for a child’s birthday instead of making them yourself. Accept that a few short-term changes during the sandwich generation caregiver years are necessary.
- Develop a System: Between the two generations, you probably feel like you are drowning in paperwork and deadlines. One of the best ways to feel as if you are in control of everything is to take time out to get organized. It might be by setting up a “Command Center” where everyone’s schedules are written on one large calendar. Or you might feel more efficient setting up a simple calendar online using something like Google Drive. Knowing you are organized and not missing appointments or losing important information can help reduce some of the stress caused by being a sandwich generation caregiver.
- Take Care of You: All too often sandwich caregivers put their own health on the backburner. They fail to schedule an annual physical and skip routine health screenings. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise also rank low on the priority list. Over time it puts caregivers like you at higher risk for health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s why it’s essential to take care of you, too. Remind yourself that if you experience a health crisis of your own, you won’t be able to care for everyone who counts on you.
If you have questions about respite care for a Michigan senior you love, please call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you. We’ll be happy to help!