Are You a Member of the Sandwich Generation?
Being a caretaker to children is a big responsibility. It can be stressful at times and that stress can show up in your body physically. Add being a caretaker to an elderly parent and that stress compounds.
Thanks to the longevity of the elder generation, more adult children are choosing to step in and become part of the sandwich generation. Some do it out of a sense of duty – having been raised to believe it’s their responsibility to care for their aged parent.
Others do it out of love – they can’t imagine putting their parent into a nursing home. Whatever reason you step up to the plate, knowing the responsibilities and how to deal with the stress beforehand can go a long way in making the situation smoother for everyone involved.
The term “sandwich generation” was coined to mean that a person is supporting two generations. The caretaker is often the meat that makes up the gist of the sandwich – the main ingredient.
While it can be a loving, rewarding experience for all involved, there are changes that can wreak havoc on your life and your family’s life if you’re not careful to avoid the pitfalls. Understand the financial commitment that you’re making.
Decide ahead of time how you’ll handle the extra expenses that will come up in the family budget. Who’s going to pay for the extra expenses? Financial pressure can put a strain on you that you want to deal with head on rather than letting it build. You may have to pay for things in order to help keep your parent safer physically.
Will you have to do anything to make the room safer for your parent? Will you need to install any safety rails in the bathroom for the bathtub and near the toilet? Will you need to buy any medical equipment such as a hospital bed to make sure your aged parent doesn’t fall out of bed?
If your parent is prone to nightly wanderings, will you have to install a system that alerts you whenever they’re out of bed? If your loved one is not at that point, but is unable to drive, who will make sure he gets to and from appointments? How will you find time to make sure he or she has an active social life with their friends?
Besides a financial commitment, understand the time commitment that you’re making. You only have so many hours in the day and if you’re like most people, you’re stretched to the limit.
How are you still going to find time for yourself? Not having time to unwind and refresh is the leading cause of burnout among family caretakers. The emotional toll it takes can be difficult to deal with.
Make sure that you still plan time for your children and your spouse so that they don’t even feeling neglected. Adding an aged loved one to the household can often change the family dynamics.
Talk the situation over with your family before you make a decision. It’s important that they’re in agreement with you so there won’t be resentment later. Having a plan in place before you make any moves can help keep the harmony in your home and in your relationship with your parent.