November is National Family Caregivers Month. Below is an article on tips to help manage caring for you own family while also caring for your parents.
Balancing Act: Caring for Your Kids and Your Parents
Six helpful tips for “sandwich generation” caregivers.
Many parents are used to juggling their children’s hectic schedules. But what happens when another ball is thrown into the mix — the responsibility of caring for aging parents?
More and more middle-aged Americans find themselves in this position. They’re sandwiched between caring for their children and caring for their parents. If you’re in this situation and feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take heart.
Here are six ways to find balance and make the most of your time:
1. Get organized. Make a master calendar. Use it to keep track of your own appointments, your kids’ schedules and your parents’ doctor visits. Include other reminders, like when to order more medical supplies or prescriptions. The National Caregivers Library online has many useful forms that can help you organize your family’s important documents.
2. Overcome the distance. Living far apart makes it hard to keep tabs on aging parents. It may be easier to relocate them closer to where you live or even into your own home. If that’s not possible, use your visits to set up a local support network you can tap when they need extra help.
3. Stay informed about parents’ health. That will make it easier for you to make decisions and set priorities for their care. Make a point of knowing their doctors and ask to be kept informed about their conditions — by phone, if you’re not in the area. Try to learn as much as you can about the health care of the people you’re caring for. Also, make sure your parents have up-to-date advance directives such as a living will and medical power of attorney so you know their medical wishes.
4. Ask for help when you need it. You don’t need to do everything yourself. Ask your relatives and friends for help when you need it. Many times your loved ones want to help but don’t know how. Start the conversation by telling them what you could use their help with.
5. Find respite care. Specialized adult day care centers are an option when you don’t want to miss your child’s soccer game. Many offer transportation and have skilled nursing staff to give medicines and monitor mealtimes. You could also hire a home health nurse or aide to take over your duties a few times a week.
6. Take care of yourself. It’s important to stay in control of your own life while looking after loved ones. Eat well and exercise to stay energized and healthy. Don’t neglect your own pursuits and interests, either. Do things you enjoy and take time to relax and de-stress daily. Also make time to visit regularly with friends and other loved ones.
Remember, as a member of the sandwich generation, you’re not alone. You have a lot in common with many other caregivers your age. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.
By Amanda Genge, Contributing Writer
- 1. ARCH: National Respite Network and Resource Center. The ABCs of respite: A consumer’s guide for family caregivers. Accessed: 4/10/2014
- 2. National Institute on Aging. So far away: Twenty questions and answers about long-distance caregiving. Accessed: 4/10/2014
- 3. National Caregivers Library. The sandwich generation. Accessed: 4/10/2014
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