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      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.   Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D ., is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. If you are a woman struggling with the demands of caring for both your young or adult children and parents, Dr. Davis can provide support, understanding, and practical tips to overcome obstacles.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D . specializes in supporting men through life’s transitions. If you are a man responsible for caring for both children and aging parents, Dr. Sample can provide you with tools and support to make juggling these responsibilities more manageable.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned that the demands of caring for your parents may be taking away from focusing on your child’s development, Dr. Shinn can evaluate for mental and emotional health concerns and provide tools to overcome challenges.     
 
	  Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
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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.