Are you taking care of your aging parents and your growing children at the same time? You are the ham, turkey, or even the cheese that’s in the middle of what’s known as sandwich generation. It’s not always an easy place to be. Everyone needs your attention — sometimes at the same time — and you can easily burn out if you’re not careful.
Here are five tips to help you make this time in your life a little easier:
Your parents didn’t just age overnight and if they aren’t at the point where they will need you as their caretaker, they might soon. Start thinking about what you need to know to make the transition easier for all of you. Do you know what your parents’ wishes are for when they need help? Do you have a good understanding of their medical conditions? Do you know where all of their financial records are and where they want to live?
If you have siblings, who will help and what will they do? Planning as much as you can ahead of time will help prevent undue conflicts and stress when the time comes.
Talk it out
You might have had the important conversation with your parents and siblings, but what about talking to your boss? Something might come up with your parents or children while you’re at work, so let your boss in on what’s going on. Perhaps you can work from home occasionally to catch up on work when things get hectic or take some of the commute pressure off of you.
Depending on your child’s age, have a heart-to-heart with him or her too. If you’re raising a teenager, they can pitch in and help around the house while you are with your parents. The last thing you need is to come home to a messy home after working all day and then checking in on mom or dad. Talk to them about carrying some of the weight. In turn, make sure you spend some quality time with them when you can, even if it’s something as simple as ordering take out and watching a Netflix movie at home.
Speaking of stress, caregiver burnout is real. It is defined as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able, physically or financially. Make sure you that you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. “It’s okay to take a break,” said Kathy Kirby, Executive Director of Nye Home Health Care. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask your siblings to take over or see if a babysitter can watch your children for a few hours while you nap. You’re not going to be any good to your parents or your children if you burn out.”
If you need more than occasional relief, enlist professional services for your parents before there is a crisis. It can make any transitions easier.
Get some help
In addition to siblings and babysitters there are caregiver resources that you can tap into when you need some additional help. For example, AARP has a family caregiving checklist at www.aarp.org/caregiving where you can get legal checklists, care options and tap into an online community.
Nye Health Services offers seven communities in Eastern Nebraska and Wyoming, structured to meet the needs of their residents from independent living to skilled nursing, memory care, and now home care services. A family-owned company with a rich history of connecting with the people they serve, Nye Health Services is open for visits anytime. Call 402.753.1400 to schedule an appointment at locations in Fremont, Lincoln, South Sioux City, Norfolk, or Jackson Hole, or visit Nye Health Services for more information.