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      “Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism?”    Maybe there’s always been something a little off with your dad that you haven’t been able to put your finger on. Perhaps he has trouble making friends or has some unusual routines that you’ve never quite understood. Until recent decades, people thought autism only looked like the severe cases seen in movies like “Rain Man.” Today, we know that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can display a variety of mild to severe symptoms. This growing knowledge of ASD has many people wondering if their dad’s unique traits could be signs of undiagnosed autism.    But how can you know if your dad is on the spectrum? And if he’s gone his whole life undiagnosed, should you encourage him to find out?   If you think your dad might have undiagnosed autism, here are some things you should know:    1. There’s a  lost generation   Autism wasn’t widely recognized until the 1980’s, so countless kids with autism were misdiagnosed or completely overlooked in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and 70’s. In recent years, many adults have only realized they have ASD when one of their children has been diagnosed. The tragedy of this lost generation is that these individuals did not receive the support growing up that we now know drastically improves the quality of life for children and adults with autism.      2. There’s no “typical” autism   There’s a saying that if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. No two people have identical symptoms, and if your dad has autism he will likely exhibit some symptoms and not others. Common symptoms include:      Trouble making friends or being “socially awkward”    Difficulty expressing emotion     Making involuntary sounds like clearing throat or humming    Sticking to strict routines and getting upset when they are disrupted    Having repetitive rituals (sometimes autism is misdiagnosed as OCD)    Underdeveloped motor skills (e.g. - poor penmanship or clumsiness)    Fixating on particular interests such as a sports team or astronomy    Having amazing memories    Making honest observations (even if they are inappropriate!)    Being highly intelligent     Being unable to understand body language    Avoiding eye contact     Disliking loud noise or busy environments    Preferring not to be physically touched    Speaking loudly without realizing it    Invading others’ personal space without meaning to    Preferring the company of kids or animals to people their own age      3. Your dad is not defective   People with autism are not broken; they just don’t respond to visual and verbal cues the same way mainstream society does. Having autism in a neurotypical world is sort of like being dropped off in a foreign country with radically different customs than you’re used to; yes, you can get by, but you’ll have trouble fitting in until you learn how to interact in ways the locals understand. In turn, the more society learns about ASD, the more schools, employers, and families can support the success and well-being of people with autism.      4. The spectrum has its perks   Many people with ASD reject the idea that autism needs to be “cured” but rather that society should embrace the unique gifts that individuals with autism bring to the table. People with ASD tend to be honest, loyal, nonjudgmental, passionate, intelligent, nonmaterialistic, and have a great sense of humor. They also tend to be better at living in the present than their ever-distracted neurotypical neighbors. Many also have outstanding talents that go beyond the average person’s capabilities.      5. Accommodations are everything   People with undiagnosed autism spend their entire lives trying to decode how to speak and act in socially acceptable ways. But when a diagnosis is made, adjustments can be made to make work, religious, and family life much more supportive of how individuals with autism think and interact. With accommodations such as mentors, calm workspaces, clear instructions, extended deadlines, additional breaks, and predictable schedules, people with autism can find success and fulfillment in all aspects of life.    Click here to check out our blog on securing accommodations for post graduate career exams     6. A diagnosis can be healing   Today, one in 59 children are diagnosed with autism. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. As an adult, a diagnosis can help your dad gain clarity on why certain things in life have been difficult for him. Understanding ASD can boost his self-confidence and empower him to embrace his unique gifts and traits. What’s more, there are communities of adults with ASD who he can connect with to build relationships and gain the support he never had growing up.       7. Breaking the news brings risks   So you’ve read the blog and are convinced your dad has autism: now the million dollar question becomes whether or not you should tell him. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While a diagnosis could be liberating, he may not be receptive to hearing your hunch. He’s spent his entire life learning how to cope with his differences, and finding out that he’s had a lifelong diagnosis may feel painful and confusing. A mental health specialist can help you determine whether the pros of understanding his symptoms and potentially seeking support could outweigh the risk of hurting his feelings or creating tension in your relationship.      


   
     
      
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      8. You deserve support   As you consider your dad’s emotional needs, make sure you don’t neglect your own. You may also be carrying pain and confusion from growing up with a parent on the spectrum. Perhaps you’ve always felt emotionally disconnected from your dad or maybe you’ve felt a parent-child role reversal as you’ve tried to help him cope with his symptoms. A mental health specialist who understands the impact of having a parent on the autism spectrum can help you work through these challenges.      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Data & Statistics. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html  Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Signs & Symptoms. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html  Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S (2015). Identifying the lost generation of adults with autism spectrum conditions. Lancet Psychiatry.  2(11):1013-27. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00277-1.   Shinn. M.M.  (2018). Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations: The LSAT, MCAT, GRE, NCLEX, CBEST, GMAT, Cosmetology Exam, Contractors Exam, & Bar Exam.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:   https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/graduate-students-guide-to-test-accommodations    Jordan, M. (2018). Workplace Accommodations: Tips and Resources.  Autism.com  Retrieved online: https://www.autism.com/adults_accommodations2  Ranaghan, S. (2018). My story being diagnosed as an adult on the autism spectrum.  Autism Speaks . Retrieved from: https://www.autismspeaks.org/life-spectrum/my-story-being-diagnosed-autism-adult    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). Could My Dad Have Undiagnosed Autism?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/could-my-dad-have-undiagnosed-autism

“Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism?”

Today, one in 59 kids is diagnosed with autism. 50 years ago, autism was largely misunderstood. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. If you think your dad might be one of the lost generation, check out this week’s blog for 8 things you should know.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Is My Baby’s Emotional Intelligence On Track?”    Let’s face it, it’s tough trying to figure out how your baby is feeling. It’s not like your 2-month-old can calmly explain, “Mom, I really don’t appreciate when you wipe my tush with those freezing cold wipes. Please use the wipe warmer moving forward.” No, instead you’re met with flailing limbs and blood-curdling screams as you desperately try to figure out why your baby’s ticked off. Though you may feel like a deer in headlights deciphering your baby’s emotions, the way you support their emotional intelligence (EQ) during their first year sets the foundation for their lifelong emotional health.    So now that we’ve laid the pressure on thick, let’s dive into  how  you can support your baby’s EQ, even when you have no clue what they’re feeling.     1. Mark their emotional milestones   The first step in supporting your child’s emotional management is understanding how a baby’s EQ typically develops. The average milestone pattern is as follows:   0-3 Months  – They express whatever emotions they’re feeling in the moment without understanding them. All they know is they are either feeling pleasure or displeasure and when they are displeased, they make sure their parents know it!   Month 3  – Your baby will make eye contact, develop more facial expressions, and start to show pleasure by smiling. They may find ways to briefly soothe themselves such as closing their eyes or thumb sucking.    Month 4  – Their showing of emotions intensifies and they’ll begin to copy your facial expressions. They’ll also recognize when they’re having fun and may cry when playing stops.   Month 5  – They become increasingly assertive and begin to decipher between family members and strangers.    Month 6  – They tend to be a bit moodier; you may notice they are happy and clapping one minute and having a raging fit the next. Gotta keep you on your toes mom & dad!   Month 7  – At this point your baby realizes you aren’t attached to them - a revelation that gives birth to a new feeling: fear. This is often when separation anxiety kicks in. They also start to pick up on social referencing, or being able to understand how others feel by looking at their faces and gestures.    8-11 months  – Your baby is becoming more aware of others’ feelings and may feel guilt when they’ve done something wrong. Separation anxiety peaks during this time, but your baby will also begin to display independence as they learn to crawl and walk.    12 months – Toddlers feel an increased need to assert their independence which leads to, you guessed it, tantrums! Since their language development is increasing dramatically, this is a great time to teach your toddler to label their emotions.    2. Embrace their wiring    The development of your child’s EQ is based on 3 factors: their brain development, their life experiences, and their temperament. At around 6 months, your baby’s temperament will become increasingly apparent. If your child is more anxious, sensitive, or hot-tempered than you’d like them to be, it’s important that you learn to accept them for who they are and not try to force them to change. Instead, focus your efforts on teaching them ways to cope with strong emotions regardless of their temperament.    3. Have 1-sided convos   Just because your baby isn’t talking yet doesn’t mean they don’t gain a lot from listening to you. It’s never too early to start talking to your baby about feelings. Make it a habit to label your emotions during everyday life so that they become familiar with what each feeling is called.   Examples: (Baby cries when Grandma leaves). Mom: “I understand, you’re feeling sad that Grandma is leaving. I’m sad Grandma’s leaving too.”   4. Encourage Empathy   A key factor of emotional intelligence is not just understanding our own emotions, but being able to recognize the feelings of others. Model empathy by bringing up others’ feelings during daily interactions and play.   Example:  “Teddy bear is sitting all by himself. He must feel lonely. Let’s go play with him.”   Have older kids too?    Check out our blog on fostering EQ in children and teens     5. Troubleshoot tantrums   Pay attention to your child’s body language  before  they enter full meltdown mode – do they shake, turn red, or clench their fists? When you notice your child steering toward the tantrum-turnpike, intervene by giving a calming touch or offering a fun distraction. This will set the foundation for learning to calm themselves down before their feelings escalate and get out of hand.    6. Model good management   The best way to show your baby how to manage emotions is to demonstrate it yourself. Whether your feelings are positive or negative, make a point to show your child healthy ways to express them.   Examples:   “I am feeling frustrated right now so I am going to close my eyes and focus on my breathing for a minute.”   “I’m feeling so excited that Titi Marta is going to be here in five minutes! Let’s do a dance together until she gets here!”   Are you a high EQ parent?    Click here    to find out!    7. Identify EQ problems   While babies progress at different rates, it’s important to know when their behaviors may be pointing to developmental problems. If your baby exhibits any of the following symptoms, their emotional growth might not be on track for their age:      Frequent anxiety or anger    Sleep problems    Refusal to eat    Lethargy    Extreme fear of new situations     Lack of motivation to try new things       


   
     
      
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      8. See a specialist   Supporting a baby’s EQ is HARD! You can’t reason with them, they can’t tell you what’s wrong, and you’re often sleep-deprived and overwhelmed yourself. The good news is, you don’t need to do it alone. Our Specialists at Variations can support you in understanding your baby’s development, determining if they need additional support, and giving you tools to boost your child’s EQ through each stage of life.        
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Alegre, A. (2011). Parenting Styles and Children’s Emotional Intelligence: What do We Know?  The Family Journal ,  19 (1), 56–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480710387486  Baby Sparks (2017). The Evolution of Emotions (Part 1): Your Baby’s First Year. https://babysparks.com/2017/10/12/the-evolution-of-emotions-part-1-your-babys-first-year/  Brouzos, A., Misailidi, P., & Hadjimattheou, A. (2014). Associations Between Emotional Intelligence, Socio-Emotional Adjustment, and Academic Achievement in Childhood: The Influence of Age.  Canadian Journal of School Psychology ,  29 (2), 83–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573514521976  Harvard University (2011). Children’s Emotional Development is Built into the Architecture of Their Brains. Center on the Developing Child.  National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.  Retrieved online: http://46y5eh11fhgw3ve3ytpwxt9r.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2004/04/Childrens-Emotional-Development-Is-Built-into-the-Architecture-of-Their-Brains.pdf  Shinn. M.M. (2018). “Am I an Emotionally Intelligent Parent?” 6 Tips for Moms and Dads to Boost their EQ.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/am-i-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent-6-tips-for-moms-dads-to-boost-their-eq  Shinn. M.M. (2018). 5 Tips for Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/5-tips-for-raising-emotionally-intelligent-children    How to Cite this Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). “Is My Baby’s Emotional Intelligence On Track?”  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from :    https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/is-my-babys-emotional-intelligence-on-track    

“Is My Baby’s Emotional Intelligence On Track?”

It’s tough to know how to support your baby’s emotions when they can’t explain them to you. The good news is, there are ways to teach your baby healthy emotional management well before they’re walking or talking.

Check out this week’s blog to learn how!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “My Kid Still Wets the Bed – What Should I Do?”    Potty training can be an intense time for both kids and parents – once the diapers come off, kids feel the pressure to please mom and dad, and parents tread carefully hoping not to slip on any “puddles or piles” that didn’t make it to the toilet.   While most kids get the hang of potty training by age 4, many children and even teens still can’t control bedwetting while they sleep. The scientific term for this condition is nocturnal enuresis – the inability to control urine while sleeping (many kids also struggle with enuresis while awake, but we’ll save that topic for a later blog!) When a child struggles with bedwetting, parents often wonder if their child is experiencing a harmless phase or if there’s a serious problem they need to address.   So what should parents do if their child is struggling with bed wetting?     The Do’s:    1. Do realize that it’s common   Your child may feel shame or embarrassment thinking that other kids their age don’t have this problem. They might avoid camping trips or sleepovers for fear of their friends finding out or making fun of them. Encourage your child or teen by letting them know that one in five children struggle with this, so it’s a very common issue.      2. Do look at your family tree   There are many biological factors that contribute to enuresis, and sometimes these issues are hereditary. Did you or anyone else in the family wet the bed until you were 12? If so, sharing that information with your child can help them understand that it’s not their fault and that their body will eventually mature past this.     3. Do learn health factors   Learn the various health conditions that might impact your kid’s bladder control. Some common conditions include:      Underdeveloped nerves that don’t sense a full bladder    Having a small bladder    Hormone imbalances    Sleep apnea    Diabetes    If you are concerned that your child or teen may have any of these conditions, consult their pediatrician for support.      4. Do consider stressors   Anxiety can cause a child or teen to start bedwetting, even if they’ve been dry at night for years. Stress from major life changes such as gaining a new sibling or starting a new school can often be released in the form of bedwetting. If they’ve had a major life change shortly before bedwetting started, consult with a mental health specialist to evaluate if your child may need additional support.     Click here to learn about Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Specialist in Child Psychology      5. Do practice “dry charting”   Create a chart to track dry nights and consistently mark it each morning; when your kid sees their “dry nights” adding up, they will feel empowered to keep trying for more. Offer small rewards for each dry night such as a sticker or candy, then increase the rewards for several dry nights in a row, such as a small toy or gadget after 10 dry nights.     6. Do try technology   There are a variety of products on the market designed to help kids become more aware of when they need to use the bathroom. Check out different “bell and pad alarm systems” which have a pad that senses urine and triggers an alarm to go off each time your child or teen starts to go. Over time, they will become more aware of their body’s cues before the alarm goes off.      7. Do get them involved   Have your child take part in cleaning up after accidents. Sharing responsibility for changing and washing sheets can help your child feel as if they are actively tackling their problem. But, be cautious not to shame or berate them when asking them to clean up; be calm and neutral in your approach.      The Don’ts      1. Don’t place blame   There are a variety of factors that can cause enuresis, and none of them are your kid’s fault. And news flash, they aren’t your fault either! Nothing positive is gained by placing blame; instead of pointing the finger, focus your energy on finding effective solutions that works for your family.      2. Don’t punish the peepee!   Parents often think that punishing their children or teens for accidents will reduce how often they happen, but in reality this just increases their kid’s anxiety and makes them feel bad about themselves. Encouraging them and staying positive will incentivize them more than guilt or punishment. Remember that next time you feel tempted to tell your daughter that a fairy dies each time she wets the bed.      3. Don’t lose patience    It’s natural for parents to get frustrated after changing sheets for the umpteenth night in a row or still having to buy diapers for a 9-year-old. No matter how upset you feel, try to keep your cool when they have accidents. Replace, “Why can’t you stop wetting the bed?!” with, “That’s ok, you’ll try again tonight and maybe get another point on your dry chart tomorrow.”     4. Don’t be inconsistent    Make sure your child or teen has a consistent bedtime and reduces fluid intake toward the end of the day. The more you can make their sleep and bathroom schedule consistent, the more dry nights they will have. You can also set periodic alarms to awake them to use the bathroom throughout the night, but again, make sure they are in the same time intervals each night so your kid anticipates them. In time, this can help their body adjust to their routine and wait to empty their bladder until they awake for the bathroom.      5. Don’t do it alone   Enuresis is a complex health issue that can have a variety of causes. If your child is 7 or older and still having trouble controlling their bladder at night, a specialist in Child Psychology can help you uncover the issues that may be delaying their development.       
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Mayo Clinic (2018). Bed-Wetting. Retrieved online:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bed-wetting/symptoms-causes/syc-20366685  Elsevier (2007). Bed wetting: nocturnal enuresis. Retrieved online: http://www.impcna.com/intranet/Nelson%20Pediatric/Kidney-Urinary%20Tract/BedWetting%5B1%5D.pdf  WebMD.com (2018) Talking to your child about bed wetting: the do’s and don’ts. Retrieved online: https://www.webmd.com/parenting/dos-and-donts-for-parents   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). My Kid Still Wets the Bed – What Should I Do?  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/my-kid-still-wets-the-bed-what-should-i-do

“My Kid Still Wets the Bed – What Should I Do?”

Is your child 7 or older and still wets the bed? Do you wonder if this is just a harmless phase or if your child has a serious health problem? Check out this week’s blog to find out!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      How to Care for Aging Parents while Raising a Family: 8 Tips for the Sandwich Generation   Modern medicine has meant that many adults are living longer – a fact that brings comfort to all of us. However, this increased life expectancy has also created another phenomenon called, “The Sandwich Generation,” – a group of adults responsible for the caregiving demands of both their children and aging parents. Becoming a “sandwiched” caregiver can feel intimidating as the physical, emotional and sometimes, financial demands are overwhelming. After spending your childhood under your parents’ care, this role reversal can feel painful and confusing for both of you.     So what can the “Sandwich Generation” do to provide the best care for their loved ones while maintaining their own well-being?   If you are a caregiver for multiple generations including young children, adult children, or aging parents, here are some tips that can help:   1. Communicate Regularly   When a parent’s health begins to decline, their care often falls into the hands of one of their children, usually, their oldest child or the one who lives closest. If that person is you, you’ll definitely feel the immense burden of having this role placed on your shoulders. To prevent all of the work from falling on you, set a regular time to communicate with other siblings, family members, or friends that can help with your parent’s care. This can keep everyone involved while holding them accountable.   2. Set your boundaries   You can’t give your family your best when you’re feeling burnt out. It’s important to set boundaries so that you only take on tasks that won’t compromise your ability to care for your kids, adult children, or yourself. Start by writing down every task you can think of related to work obligations and caring for your children and parents. Go over your list with family members to show them how much is on your plate and what you can or can’t take on. Set clear boundaries and stick to them.     3. Break down roles   Discuss who would be the best fit for each task related to your parent’s care. Does your cousin with a law degree have time to go over hospital paperwork? Is your brother’s daily route near the pharmacy to pick up medication? Can multiple family members share the responsibility of giving your parent rides throughout the week? And what about your sister who lives 800 miles away? Online banking means finances can be monitored from anywhere, so that might be a good fit for her. You may also consider having everyone pitch in to hire outside help for tasks such as housecleaning or grocery delivery.   4. Find support programs   There are many community centers, hospitals, and places of worship that provide support groups for caregivers to connect and share their experiences. You may be thinking, “I’m stretched beyond my max – I barely have time to read this blog, much less to attend support groups!” Remember, supporting your emotional health will reduce stress and improve your family relationships. In addition, many support groups have an adult care component, giving both you and your parent a break as you focus on self-care.   5. Schedule friend-dates   To avoid burnout, it’s important to regularly unwind, socialize, and spend time focused on your own identity away from your role as caregiver. Make sure that when you set your boundaries, you schedule specific “black-out dates” where other siblings or loved ones will need to tend to the needs of your parent. If your children are young, schedule babysitting trade-offs with other parents to enjoy some care-free fun with your friends or significant other.   6. Make your health a priority   Caregivers will take aging parents to every medical specialist under the sun but often fail to address their own health needs. Make it a point to do everything for yourself that you would do for your parent: get regular checks ups, annual physicals, lab work, dental  exams, and fill your own prescriptions. Prioritize exercise, whether it be a casual walk or an intense work-out. Try to sleep at least 8 hours a night and eat a well-balanced diet high in protein and vegetables to boost your mood and energy.   7. Recognize your parent's perspective    A common issue that caregivers experience is bumping heads with their parents. Remember that they are also experiencing stress, as it is difficult to hand off responsibility for their personal health and finances to others. Talk to them openly about their wishes and concerns and let them know that you want to help them from a place of mutual respect. Whenever possible, get them involved in problem solving or offer them options to show that you value their sense of independence.   Examples:      “Dad, what do you think would help you remember to take your medication?”      “Mom, what can we do to make errands a little more manageable? Would you be open to having your groceries delivered or your prescriptions automated?”      “Mom and dad, who would you like to help oversee your finances? Is there a family member you would trust or would you like me to look into a professional service?”     8. See a specialist   Whether you are caring for your children, your parents, or both, taking on new caregiving responsibilities is a challenging adjustment. A specialist can support you through these transitions and help you set boundaries, find additional resources, and maintain a close bond with each of your family members.      
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                The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Barron, B. 9 Tips for Managing Sandwich Generation Stress. Care.com https://www.care.com/c/stories/5326/tips-for-managing-sandwich-generation-stress/  Goyer, A. Five Tips for Sanwiched Caregivers. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/sandwich-generation-tips-ag.html  Passy, C. (2015). 6 Lessons for the Sandwich Generation. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/6-lessons-for-the-sandwich-generation-2015-09-10  Parker, K., Patton, E. (2013). The Sandwich Generation Rising Financial Burdens for Middle Aged Americans. PEW Research Center. Retrieved online: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/01/30/the-sandwich-generation/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). How to Care for Aging Parents while Raising a Family: 8 Tips for the Sandwich   Generation.   Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/how-to-care-for-aging-parents-while-raising-a-family-8-tips-for-the-sandwich-generation

How to Care for Aging Parents while Raising a Family: 8 Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Modern medicine has meant that many adults are living longer – a fact that brings comfort to all of us. However, this increased life expectancy has also created another phenomenon called, “The Sandwich Generation,” – a group of adults responsible for the caregiving demands of both their children and aging parents. Becoming a “sandwiched” caregiver can feel intimidating as the physical, emotional and sometimes, financial demands are overwhelming. After spending your childhood under your parents’ care, this role reversal can feel painful and confusing for both of you.