You may have heard of Millennials or Baby Boomers but have you heard of the Sandwich Generation? This rising demographic already accounts for about 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s who have a parent 65 or older and are also supporting a grown child. In fact, one in seven of these adults are financially assisting both their parents and one or more children. The majority of the estimated 40 million family caregivers are members of the Sandwich Generation. These are people sandwiched between caring for their own children and taking care of their parents. Throw in partners and grandchildren and you are sandwiched in multiple full time roles. The addition of the caregiver role along with these other demands makes being a caregiver all the more challenging.
Suggestions and tips to navigate through this time in your life:
- Collaborate rather than confront. This basically means pick and choose your battles. Often times caregivers will find that there are many ongoing battles particularly with people with dementia or medical problems that cause loss of mental or physical function. This creates loss of independence. Feelings of depression and anger can emerge that frequently are focused on caregivers.
- Remember to take care of yourself. The biggest mistake caregivers make is forgetting to take care of yourselves. If you burn out then you will not be capable of helping anyone else. If you don’t want to do it for you do it for the other people close to you that are a part of your daily life. Take care of your body. (Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise as best you can)
- Give yourself permission to ask for help. No matter how efficient and superhuman you are there are going to be moments that arise when you will need help.
- Get organized. Have those harder conversations now not when there is added stress of an emergency. Families benefit from meeting with an attorney and setting up a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Surrogate.