Did you know that nearly half of adults between the ages of 40- and 60-years-old are raising or financially supporting children while also caring for aging parents (Pew Research Center)? This is what is known as the sandwich generation. That means that a good portion of those reading this is doing just that – caring for children while also caring for aging parents. It is not uncommon for young adults to struggle to find their footing financially and thus continue to live at home with their parents during their 20’s and sometimes into their 30’s. There are some circumstances in which this may also include their children’s significant others and children. On top of that, aging parents could possibly mean providing care for daily living tasks, medical care, and financial help. That is tough!
With these responsibilities could come shortage of time, shortage of money, and shortage of resources (e.g., space in your home). With all of this pressure and stress added to your life there are some things you can do to help yourself get through it a little easier.
- Make time for yourself. You must take care of your own health and wellbeing or you won’t be good for anyone else. Take time to do something you enjoy. Spend time with people you enjoy (aside from your family members). Do something that makes you feel good.
- Seek out help. There may come a time that you need to enlist help from other people or agencies. You may be blessed with other family members who can help with the care of your aging parents, but you may have to ask. Do not be afraid to ask others to help with running errands, going to medical appointments, or even cleaning your parent’s home or providing them with a meal. If family is not an option, do not hesitate to seek out help through your friends, church, or local agencies. There are many resources available to provide rides to appointments, deliver meals, and other practical help.
- Keep communication open. It is important to keep communication open regarding expectations, feelings, and needs of family members (including your own). If you have the expectation that your young adult child is either working or caring for the home while looking for a job, you must communicate that. If you need help to get your mother to and from her dental appointment, ask someone to help you. If you need a break to take care of yourself on your day off work, tell your family and then take that break.
Caregiver burnout is real, and it can happen really fast. You must take care of yourself if you expect to be able to keep taking care of others. If you need help, ask! Your family may be able to help you. If they can’t, check with local agencies such as Meals on Wheels, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, your local senior center, or Job and Family Service (JFS).