It’s become increasingly common for adult children to take on the care of elderly parents while raising young children themselves, which can add up to a lot of stress and responsibility. Known as the Sandwich Generation, this category of adults may find themselves stretched beyond their limits, but unsure where to turn. There needs to be a way to relieve the stress.
If you find yourself in the position of caring for both your children and parents, you’ll need to find a way to balance these responsibilities while still taking care of yourself, even when it feels like you don’t have the time. So before you reach your limits, consider these 3 strategies for minimizing stress while helping everyone get the care and nurturing they need.
Learn To Spot A Crisis
Both kids and elderly parents are particularly skilled at making everyday wants and needs seem like a crisis that needs immediate attention, but most of these concerns aren’t actually urgent. So in order to keep the crisis alarm from going off over and over again in your head, you’ll need to learn to recognize a true emergency. If no one is sick or injured or having a serious emotional breakdown, it can wait – even if your child or parent insists that it can’t.
Know Your Options
Being a full time caretaker isn’t your only option, even if it may feel like it sometimes. You are allowed – and encouraged – to ask for help. There are a few different ways you can approach this, such as signing this kids up after school programming with friends or finding a senior day program for your parents to attend a few days a week. Depending on the circumstances, you parents may also be eligible for certain kinds of in-home care.
You’re also not obligated to care for your parents in your home, especially if you feel ill equipped to handle their medical needs. This is why assisted living facilities are so valuable, allowing senior adults to live in a community with additional support but still maintain a lot of freedom. Assisted living communities often offer a lot of activities such as gardening, gentle fitness, movies, and games that you may not be able to provide at home.
Focus On You
There are simple things you can do every day to reduce your stress and help shift out of the role of constant caretaker. Make sure to find time to exercise, even if it’s just half an hour doing laps at the pool or a long walk around the neighborhood, and cook healthy foods for yourself and your family. Taking care of yourself will help you feel more centered and open to what others need while still acknowledging that your needs and desires matter too.
Don’t let caregiving become your entire life to the expense of your own health, hobbies, and friendships. Too many adults consider taking care of their parents an obligation, even if it strains everyone’s relationships, creating sour feelings during the last few years of your parents’ lives. Instead, find ways to enjoy each other, and to enjoy your children, by maintaining a balance between caring and asking for help.