The sandwich generation is a term that fits a large segment of the population. With aging baby boomers for parents, and children of their own still at home, members of this generation find themselves trying to maintain a normal family life, while still providing loving care for their elderly or disabled parents. If you are struggling to deal with this situation, here are some ideas to help you regain your balance while still meeting the needs of those who depend on you.
Find and Accept Help
One of the most difficult parts of this type of commitment is coming to the realization that you can, and should, ask for and accept help. Trying to shoulder the burden of being the sole caregiver may seem like a noble gesture, but in reality it can lead to depression and other serious health issues. In fact, estimates show that as many as fifty percent of caregivers may be experiencing symptoms of depression, and the rate is even higher when they are caring for a parent who suffers from dementia.
Caregivers sandwiched between the duties of caring for both children and parents can help relieve some of the stress and maintain their own health and well-being by seeking and accepting help on a regular basis. Here are some ideas to explore to find this type of help.
- Speak with your spouse, partner or older children about assuming a larger role in caring for the home and younger children.
- Consider hiring help for time-consuming tasks, such as cleaning, laundry and lawn care.
- Convene a family meeting with siblings and their spouses or partners to discuss sharing care arrangements and the responsibility issues associated with caring for elderly parents.
- Consult with local agencies dedicated to the needs of the elderly to determine what additional assistance is possible in your situation.
Develop Ways to Make Elderly Parents Feel More Empowered
Elderly parents who are being cared for can be easier to manage and happier, overall, when steps are taken to help them regain some of their independence. If mobility limitations are present, consider outfitting them with a battery operated wheelchair or power mobility scooter. In many cases, these machines can be used in standard homes without making major structural changes.
If the elderly parent resides in a multiple story home, consider moving their bedroom to the main level and changing the layout of the furniture to accommodate wheelchair and walker use. Add grab bars and rails to hallways, bathrooms and traffic areas to help them feel more secure. If the home is located more than a few minutes away, consider combining both homes into one to save travel time.