Are you the caregiver for an aging parent or other senior family member? You aren’t alone. According to the Pew Research Center, one in eight people in this country finds themselves in this situation. They are caring for a senior loved one while raising their own family and oftentimes working outside the home, too.
These people are referred to as sandwich generation caregivers. The challenges they face juggling so many roles often mean especially stressful days.
What can you do to survive the sandwich generation caregiver years?
We have a few tips to help you navigate a demanding schedule.
4 Tips for Surviving When You Are a Sandwich Generation Caregiver
- Set priorities: When a senior loved one’s health is declining, a family caregiver may strive to make everything as perfect as possible. It can result in unrealistic expectations. A better approach may be prioritizing the most important things and giving yourself permission to compromise in other areas.
- Seek support: Adult children often feel duty-bound to care for a parent on their own. Many doubt anyone can care for their parent as well as they do. While that is a noble goal, it’s rarely achievable. When friends and family members offer to lend a helping hand, say yes instead of no. Easy tasks to ask for help with include running errands, picking up prescriptions, or sitting with the senior while you take a break. In addition to helping you, family members will enjoy spending meaningful time with the senior. If you don’t have anyone close who can help, call your local office of the Area Agency on Aging. The staff can typically offer a list of suggestions.
- Get organized: Caregivers often struggle to manage an abundance of paperwork and appointments. It’s easy to become disorganized and stressed out. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to establish systems that give you peace of mind. One way is to set up a binder with the senior’s important health information and medical schedule. You might also want to create a master calendar that lists appointments for everyone in the house.
- Commit to self-care: From failing to schedule an annual physical to skipping routine health screenings, sandwich generation caregivers often get so busy they neglect their own health. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise may seem like luxuries you don’t have time for. Eventually, it can put a caregiver at risk for health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s why it’s vital for caregivers to practice good self-care. Doing so will help you take better care of your family.
One final tip is to consider respite care services at an assisted living community. Your loved one will receive the same care and support as long-term residents while you take a restful, renewing break. Call the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!