Do you care for an aging parent? Do you also have children under the age of 18? If so, you are a part of the sandwich generation.
This growing group of caregivers are caught between the responsibilities of raising their children and also caring for a parent. They often feel torn over who gets their help first and how do they do it all and maintain some normalcy in their own lives.
Thirty years ago, this wasn’t even an issue as our family members rarely lived past their 70’s. Now the average life expectancy in the United States for men is 76 years and is 81 for women. I live in Pennsylvania where we have the second largest population of people over the age of 65.
Caregiving has become a reality as our parents live longer due to advances in medicine. It’s been estimated that about 17 percent of adult children provide some level of care for a parent during their lifetime.
For those caregivers of parents in their 80’s and 90’s… the role becomes even more challenging as the aging parent is dealing with more chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
My father passed away at the age of 79, nine months after being diagnosed with cancer. My mother is now 88 and has been living with a gradual cognitive decline for the last 12 years.
With the majority of Alzheimer care being provided by a family member, there are also now more disruptions in the caregiver’s work schedule. I often hear about the frustrations of caregiving from the adult children of my clients.
They struggle with the need to leave work to take a parent to doctors’ appointments or they are called out of a meeting for a sudden medical issue for their parent. They also wonder if they’ll ever have a chance to get away for a much-needed vacation.
If you are pulled in too many directions as a sandwich generation caregiver consider the following:
- Build a team of caregivers: When you are first called upon to help a parent, you have no idea that the help you are providing could be needed for many years. That acute crisis that required your help now can morph into a long-term commitment. It’s critical that you start thinking about who can help and in what capacity. Maybe you get a friend to bring meals, a neighbor to bring in the mail or newspaper, or grandkids to spend some quality time with their grandparents.
- Hire in-home non-medical caregivers: Non-medical caregivers can help with bathing, cooking, light house cleaning, laundry, and companionship. They also can take a parent to appointments or local shopping trips.
- Consider an Adult Day Care Program: Adult Day Care is especially helpful for parents that have Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related conditions. Many programs offer a reasonably priced full day program Monday through Friday. This allows the adult child the ability to assign care for their aging loved one, and also be able to continue to work full time.
- Hire a Health Advocate: A Health Advocate can attend medical appointments and navigate the challenges of an acute or chronic illness. They are also experts on the various caregiving resources in the area and can set up a plan that works best for your family.
Caregiving doesn’t have to be a huge burden if you take the time to reach out for support from your family and the local community. Severino Health Advisors offers comprehensive in-home assessments. This two-hour assessment offers a chance to meet you and your loved one and then design a specific caregiving plan for your needs. Call today for a free 15-minute consultation to see how we can help.