In the eyes of many, caregivers are heroes without capes. They care for people with injuries, health conditions and disabilities and provide the support they need to remain independent and lead quality lives.
However, this help comes with consequences, especially for the members of the sandwich generation who juggle marital, parenting, work and senior care responsibilities. Discover the everyday challenges of adult children turned caregivers and tips to overcome dilemmas.
People can multitask, but caregiving is a different breadth of responsibility that demands more resources. Some quit their jobs to care for their aging loved ones because they find it difficult to do both.
Juggling caregiving with parenting and employment duties can be overwhelming. You wear several hats, and sliding from one role to another, from a parent to a caregiver, is a balancing act requiring tremendous hard work. Since most adult children volunteer to help their senior parents, it boils down to perseverance and sacrifice.
You can juggle parenting, work, marital and caregiving responsibilities by setting limitations and accepting help from others. As several things require your attention, be upfront about your availability to everyone. For example, you can tell your senior mom or dad they can only speak to you about their concerns during the evening unless it’s an emergency. Do the same thing with your children and spouse. Make them understand your reasons and what it means for your well-being.
Caregiving is a stressful task. You must be able to tolerate excessive levels to avoid getting burned out. Nearly four in 10 caregivers consider caring for a loved one highly taxing. Burnout is prevalent among family or informal caregivers. A combination of things causes this, such as the need for proper caregiving training and stress management skills and the conflicting demands of the people around you.
Your senior parents, children, employer and spouse all have needs, and these factors result in caregiver burnout.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and you must admit you need help when you’re experiencing it from all sides. A good strategy is to take a respite to allow yourself some time to recover. Adding a break to your schedule is a must. Don’t wait for a breakdown before you step away from your obligations.
You can take a respite with peace of mind by finding a reliable and experienced caregiver to temporarily take over your duties. You can also ask your network if they can recommend someone to you.
Many of those who belong to the sandwich generation ultimately get isolated because of their responsibilities. With career, parenting and elder care duties demanding time and energy, most family members sacrifice their social life, leading to isolation and caregiver burnout.
Socialization is a basic tenet of health. It’s as essential as physical and mental well-being and helps you increase resilience to stress. If you last reconnected with friends several weeks ago, hire a caregiver or ask another family member to take over for a few hours. Having fun catching up with friends or doing stress-relieving activities is vital. You can join caregiver support groups for social support through an area agency on aging near you and connect with others.
Other Health Implications
The weight of being a multigenerational caregiver can take a toll on your mental health. You’re more likely to get depressed and burn out by juggling parenting and senior care. The stress from balancing the demands of kids and elderly loved ones mounts easily while support and resources are scarce.
The absence of socialization, frustrations from being unable to provide adequate care and the unexpected financial burden of long-term care for seniors without a retirement plan contribute to psychological issues among caregivers. Many experience distress, depression and anxiety.
Always ask for help before the situation becomes worse. Most family caregivers wait until signs of depression, anxiety and burnout appear before hiring home care services or relocating their parents to a senior living community. You can support them without putting your health on the back burner. Consider contacting a care adviser if you need recommendations on senior living options in your area.
Balance Parenting and Elder Care With External Help
You can balance multiple roles only if you ask for help from other people. Talk with your siblings or other family members and see if you can find a way to take turns providing care for your senior parents. A relative may be available to relieve you during weekends, giving you time for a brief respite.
Furthermore, find an online or in-person support group where you can converse with other family caregivers about their challenges and learn strategies that have worked for them. You’ll be surprised at how these groups can give you immense emotional support by letting you open up to others.