Feeling Squeezed in the Middle of a Generational Sandwich?
How to Take Care of Yourself as You Take Care of Others
Raising your kids, working, trying to take care of yourself, and now caring
for an aging parent? That makes you part of the Sandwich Generation. You
are not alone—almost half of America’s 40- and 50-year olds
are in the same boat.
Most of us have adjusted to balancing children, work and finding some time
for ourselves. But when we add caring for an aging parent, it often becomes
too much. And usually it’s the “me” part that is sacrificed…until
you hit burn out.
Here are some ways to leverage your time and resources so you can also
take care of yourself.
Enlist Your Kids
Even the smallest child can spend charming one-on-one time with a grandparent.
If your parent lives with or near you, they can spend time together in
person. If your parent is not near you, they can Skype on the computer,
use FaceTime or play multi-player online games. Your children, no matter
what their ages, will benefit from spending time with Grandma or Grandpa,
they will see how you value and care for aging family members—and
you will get some extra time to return phone calls, make dinner, or even
catch a quick nap!
Ask About Options at Work
Check with your employer’s human resources department about resources
that might be available to you. Depending on how long you expect to be
caring for your parent, there may be a multitude of options available
to you, including elder care research and referral services, flex time,
even working from home options. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
calls for eligible employees to receive 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected
leave. (Private employers with less than 50 employees are exempt.)
There are legal and community resources that can help you make the best
care and financial decisions for your parent. A local Elder Care attorney
can prepare the necessary legal documents and help you maximize your parent’s
income, long-term care insurance and retirement savings, and qualify for
VA or Medicaid benefits, if applicable. He/she will also be familiar with
various living communities in the area and in-home care agencies. You
can also hire someone to review and verify/dispute insurance claims and
Find Your “Me” Time
Stress is your biggest enemy and you have to find ways to reduce it. Joining
a caregiver group, in person or online, will let you share your questions
and frustrations, and learn how other caregivers are coping. Don’t
be afraid to ask favors of friends and other relatives, such as picking
up your kids while you go to the doctor with your parent. You could also
learn to order in dinner every now and then without feeling guilty. Learn what
you need to maintain your stamina, energy and positive outlook. That may include
regular exercise (a yoga class, walk or run), a weekly outing with friends,
or time to read or simply watch TV.
Sourced by Eldercounsel