You may have heard the phrase sandwich generation and wondered what it meant. This term was coined to classify adults sandwiched between caring for aging parents and raising a family of their own. Many do this while working outside the home. These sandwich generation caregivers live hectic, often stressful lives.
Nearly half of all people in their 40s and 50s qualify as sandwich generation caregivers. They are the primary caregivers for—or beginning to care for—a parent while having their own children living at home. As baby boomers retire at a rate of 10,000 per day, the sandwich generation continues to grow.
July is Sandwich Generation Caregiver Month. In honor of this designation, we are offering advice to weary caregivers. From stress relief to senior care, here are five ways to survive these challenging years.
5 Survival Tips for Sandwich Generation Caregivers
- Ask for and accept help.
It’s unrealistic to manage so many roles without help, yet many sandwich generation caregivers do. Even when a friend or loved one offers assistance, a family caregiver may resist. Give yourself permission to ask for and accept help. It’s essential for preventing a serious case of caregiver burnout. Here are a couple reasons why it’s important to accept help:
- Protect your health: Weary caregivers are stressed caregivers. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, which can put you at higher risk for a variety of illnesses. If you fall ill, who will be able to care for your family members?
- Recover with rest: Accept that you will be a better caregiver when you get a good night’s sleep or even take a nap. You will be less likely to make mistakes when well rested.
- Have open and honest communication.
One challenge sandwich generation caregivers face is worrying about a parent’s financial situation. This can be especially difficult if you took on the role of caregiver as the result of your parent’s sudden illness or injury. The two of you might not have had an opportunity to discuss how to handle their monthly finances.
While it might not be easy, have an honest conversation with your parent. If they don’t use online bill payment options, setting them up may help. It can make things easier for both of you.
- Review or create legal documents.
Make sure you know which—if any—legal documents your parent has in place. In most cases, an older adult typically needs:
- A will or trust
- A living will
- Advance directives
- A durable power of attorney
- A health care proxy/power of attorney
If some are missing, work with a trusted attorney to create them.
- Explore senior care resources.
Most cities and counties have a wide variety of senior care resources available. From home care to assisted living and memory care, they provide families with many options to choose from. If you aren’t familiar with those near you, call your local agency on aging office. Most have staff that can educate families on which types of care best meet their needs.
- Make time for self-care.
Pushing yourself to the point of mental and physical exhaustion is never a good idea. It puts you at high risk for a variety of mental and physical health concerns. Make time each day to unwind and de-stress. Maybe it’s a 10-minute meditation before bedtime or a morning stroll around the block. Many caregivers find journaling therapeutic. The goal should be to focus on your own wellness for a few minutes every day.
Care for Every Need
At Heritage Senior Communities, we have a type of senior care to meet every need. From independent living for the active older adult to assisted living and memory care for those who need a helping hand, we invite you to learn more. Find the community nearest you and call today!