How to Cope With Sandwich Generation Stress
The sandwich generation refers to middle-aged adults, usually in their 40s and 50s, who find themselves sandwiched between the responsibilities of caring for their elderly parents and their own children. Many of us who have watched our parents get older have found that the caregiver role reverses over time, and we realize our senior parents increasingly need our support as they age.
Caring for your elderly parents – while caring for your children – while also working a full-time or part-time job – while also managing your home – can be very, very overwhelming. Caregiver burnout is widespread among the sandwich generation, so you must take time for yourself and utilize your support networks. Here are some different ways to cope compiled by our assisted living coordinators at United Methodist Communities:
Get Support – Consider UMC HomeWorks
Our UMC HomeWorks senior home care service can be very beneficial for those who live locally, especially if your elderly parents don’t live with you. A certified home health aide can visit your parents on a regular basis and assist in the following areas:
- Medication management
- Light housekeeping
Whether your elderly parents need someone to visit daily or to stop by once a week, one of our home health aides will work with you to give your parents the support and care they need in their home. This assistance can help free up some of your time while also giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your parents are in good hands when you can’t be there.
Remember to Take Some Time for Yourself
It’s the age-old question: who takes care of the caregiver? Although it’s easier said than done, it’s important that you take some time for yourself to decompress, relax, and give yourself a chance to clear your mind. Caregiver burnout can negatively impact your physical, mental, and emotional health, and you can’t properly take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Your Family Can Help
If you have other family members who live nearby, get together and make a schedule to ensure that everyone is pitching in equally. It’s unfair if most caregiving responsibilities fall to one person, so don’t be hesitant to ask for help and support when you need it. Some parents are reluctant to involve their children in caring for their grandparents, but once their children are adults, they should be able to share in the responsibility.
Many sandwich generation adults find that their caregiving responsibilities for their children and parents interfere with their ability to work full-time. If this is true for you, and you have a spouse who works full-time, it’s important to meet with a financial planner who can help you set budget goals. We also recommend meeting with your parents’ estate planning attorney, who can help you plan for any future care they might need, including changes in health and mobility. Be sure to check Benefits Checkup to learn if your parents qualify for any assistance programs in your area.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Stress can lead us to engage in unhealthy behaviors like drinking alcohol, smoking, and increasing our junk food intake. It’s critical to be mindful of your daily choices, ensure you’re drinking enough water, moderate your alcohol intake, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly to feel your very best. When we’re healthy, hydrated, and properly nourished, we are better able to manage stress and all of the daily tasks that life throws at us.