LifestyleIf you’re responsible for caring for aging parents as well as your own children, then welcome to the “sandwich generation.” Being sandwiched between the needs of the old and the young can leave the middle generation feeling stressed and burned-out. The first step to feeling better is often accepting that you have needs, too, and taking steps to meet them. Here are some next steps:
Take Care of Yourself – Doing your best requires you to feel your best. You can’t give your all to care for your parents and children if you’re always feeling tired and run-down. Think about this: When your parents feel run-down, what do you suggest for them? More rest, more nutrition, and if possible, more exercise and fresh air. Take your own advice, and you won’t be the only one who benefits.
Speak Up – Don’t assume that your family members already know that you’re overworked and need help, especially if they don’t live nearby. So be candid about your situation. If you’re stressed out, let them know. If you need a hand, ask for it. There is nothing wrong with asking siblings (or even offspring) to help. That’s what families are for.
Don’t Just Lend a Hand, Take It – Caring for a parent is a chance to do something meaningful for someone who means a lot to you. Providing that care may not be easy, but you want to do it; you do it out of love. Maybe that’s why others are trying to help you. Let them.
Contact a Caregiver– Many agencies specialize in providing care to seniors. By providing care for as little as a couple of hours a week, an agency can provide a much-needed respite – time for you to take care of your children or yourself. Agencies such as Seniors Helping Seniors provide care from fellow seniors, so your loved one can enjoy some company when you’re not there.
Get Some Outside Help – If you would rather not hire someone to care for your loved one, consider getting some additional help for yourself. Many professional services can handle tasks that require a few hours of your time each month; these include housekeeping, landscaping, grocery shopping, and babysitting.
Help Doesn’t Have to Be Local – The burden of caring for an older parent often falls on the son or daughter who lives nearest. But that doesn’t mean others can’t help. Even faraway relatives can serve as hubs for communicating with family and friends; they can also help with finances, medical care, or arranging for local services. A little long-distance help can free you to do what can only be done in person – even if it’s just having a nice visit.
Caring for parents and children at the same time is never going to be easy. But, chances are, there are things you can do to make the responsibilities easier to handle. So get the care you need. Once you’ve had time to breathe and recharge, you can help the rest of your family feel better, too.