Managing a household and looking after children is a difficult job and adding an aging parent or parents can be overwhelming. Whether your parents are in their own home, in an assisted living home or living with you, the burden placed on you can often feel almost impossible to manage.
For those of us in the sandwich generation, where we have children at home and parents who need more and more assistance, the stress can take an incredible toll on our health and wellbeing. And, more and more of us are “sandwiched”. The Pew research centre reports that in the United States nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.
You can, however, do some things to help manage the burden placed on you. Here are a few suggestions:
Take “Supermom” out of your vocabulary
Although some demands must be met daily, like feeding your kids and making certain mom has her medicine, some demands can be left by the wayside. Your kids can survive one meal a week of pancakes with a side of sliced carrots and mom can wait an extra day for her magazine subscription.
Make a list and Prioritize.
Get a large white board and set your weekly list. Some are repetitive and some are one-offs. Seeing it all in front of you will give you a better idea of what can be left for later or what can be juggled to accommodate those one-offs, like appointments and social obligations.
Include the Kids in their Grandparents Care.
We spoil our kids. Children grow up with less and less family responsibility as we offer them more opportunities. We feel that kids should be allowed to be kids and not have the same “burdens” placed on them that adults do. And, although this is true, there is nothing wrong with making our kids spend time with a grandparent who may not be so easy to look after. Kids helping the older generation instills an understanding and compassion that will carry them through life. At first It may be uncomfortable for your 8 -year-old to feed grandpa after his stroke, but, in time it will feel natural and less “gross” and the benefits to both generations will be amazing.
Utilize the Resources Around You.
Take the time to find every available support you can get. Every province and municipality offers programs to help you with elderly care. If your parent is still in the home, you can apply for respite care to give you a break and don’t be shy to apply for in house help. Some senior’s homes and churches offer a day care program where you can send your parent for the day for an outing of crafts and activities.
Reach out to Siblings
If you are carrying the burden of care by yourself don’t be shy to ask your siblings for help. Even if they are far away, a twice yearly visit to look after mom or dad can give you a break. There is nothing wrong with expecting a sibling to give up a week of vacation to help out. After all, you do it all the other days of the year.
Finally, be kind to yourself. If you don’t always meet the demands placed on you, take a deep breath and remember you are not “Superwoman” and you ARE doing an amazing job.