“Duality in Caring”

I found this article via a Facebook page today.  “Yay” for articles like this that have helpful tips and make me feel like other people get what I am experiencing!

This is from Bright Horizons Family Solutions:

The Sandwich Generation – Duality in Caring

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 25% of all Americans ages 40 – 60, are caught in the middle of caring for two generations, raising both a child and caring for a parent or other elderly family member.

Known as the “sandwich generation”, they are typically in their mid-forties, both male and female, married, employed, and constantly juggling the complex roles of parent, spouse, and caregiver. They feel enormous stressors, pushed to the limit on caring for family members, meeting work commitments, supporting friendships, and maintaining their own personal health and well being.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may feel over scheduled and under resourced. Those of us in the sandwich generation confront multiple stressors that can lead to burnout and depression which impact our sense of personal confidence and well being and may also affect our ability to enjoy our own families.

Squeezed from the duality of caring for both children and elders, members of this sandwich generation frequently confront dilemmas like:

  • Splitting time between our children/ family and our elder loved one
  • Balancing time for our partners or spouses and for ourselves
  • Dealing with feelings of guilt for not having enough time to accomplish it all

It may be overwhelming at times, but here are some proven strategies to ease the strain for those of us “sandwiched” between the competing demands of children, elder parents, and work:

Communicate

  • Tell your spouse and children about the responsibilities you are facing and how their understanding and support is key to success.
  • Encourage children and elders to communicate with one another, allowing everyone to share their views and how they can contribute to a harmonious family.
  • Talk with your family when plans need to be adjusted to fit changing situations.

Share Responsibilities

  • Hold family meetings to discuss and set mutual expectations about the many different care-giving tasks that need to be accomplished each day or week.
  • Draw up a roster allocating duties for each family member.
  • Involve elders in the daily activities at home, letting them know they are part of your world.

Reassure the ones you love

  • Let your family know that taking care of your elders will not affect the love you will keep giving to them. Welcome your parents into the household and let them know they are not a burden and how much they are appreciated.
  • Write little notes of love, appreciation, and encouragement to children, elders and spouse.

Take care of yourself

  • Reduce scheduled commitments and lighten up on enrichment- filled days when possible.
  • Find 30 minutes of personal time to exercise, read, meditate, listen to music , or call a friend.

Ask for assistance

  • Make a point of picking up the telephone and spending time calling resources such as an area agency on aging, a hospital social worker, physician or church.
  • Find a friend to walk and talk with you.

In coping with caring across generations, we model and teach our children about love, caring for parents, friendships, kindness and inclusion. There is no one right way to be a good parent or adult caregiver, so allow for mistakes, remembering the joy that comes in caring for those we love.


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