The struggle is real for the sandwich generation. This group includes people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are caring for both children and aging parents. About 47% of adults help provide care for a parent who is 65 years or older while also raising children. In addition to providing more traditional care, one in seven of these adults also provides financial assistance for a parent and child.
The sandwich generation faces many challenges that can lead to burnout and health issues, including stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help ease the burden and feel less stressed while providing care for others.
Getting ahead of the game can do wonders for keeping stress in check. While your parents are still independent, take the time to chat with them about their finances and what type of care they may need in the years to come. With your kids, it’s smart to talk about how much financial support you’ll be able to provide once they graduate from high school. Having these discussions earlier can help relieve some of the pressure later.
Build a support system
If you have siblings, they can – and should – play a role in caring for your parents. You can also lean on your partner to help manage the responsibility of caring for your children. The more people who pitch in, the less of a burden it will be on any one person.
If it fits into your budget, hiring people to help with even small aspects of your day-to-day tasks can help lessen your load. Depending on your needs, you might consider hiring someone to provide in-home care for your parent or enroll him or her in an adult care program. Another way to seek help may include hiring a housekeeper to keep your home clean. It’s one less thing for you to worry about.
Talk to your employer
Avoid hiding your situation from your employer. It’s better to be proactive and work together to find ways to can manage your job and caregiving tasks. Helping your employer understand your situation is key to gaining more flexibility that can help you avoid stressful situations down the road.
Remember – there’s no such thing as perfection in caregiving. Instead of trying to do it all, put your focus on the most important things you need to do each day. Toss the long to-do list and instead put your energy toward the two to three most urgent priorities. What you don’t get done today, you can tackle tomorrow.
Make time for yourself
There’s a saying I like to tell my patients: there are two parts to caregiving – one is caring for your loved one and the other is caring for yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, the person you care for will also end up suffering. Make sure you set aside time to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, get regular physical exercise and socialize with family and friends. Taking care of yourself helps you take better care of others.