As children grow up, elderly parents slow down. At some point in time, you may find yourself facing two generations, both of whom look to you, the middle-aged adult, for support.
Being the primary caregiver to elderly parents while trying to help young adults become independent can be one of life’s most stressful roles. Women generally carry the load more than men but nearly 40 percent* of all who fall in this sandwich generation report stress.
Whether you’re the one in the middle or you’d like to support a caregiver in this role, here are some helpful tips for managing the day-to-day stress.
Caregiving in any capacity is tough work. When someone has a temporary illness like a cold or injury, we can see the end. We know this situation is only temporary, so the sacrifice feels less like a burden.
In longer-term situations where future health, illness, and independence appear more unpredictable, the unknowns create caregiver stress. Realizing the difficult nature of this work can help. No one can give continuously without feeling the physical and emotional weight. “It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had to do” is a familiar refrain.
Give yourself permission to realize the nature of this important calling—and learn how to pace, plan, and find peace.
Learning more is always a good starting place, especially to know you’re not alone on this journey. Search online for local caregiver support groups or join our Facebook caregiving group and explore our resources.
Compile every positive resource within your grasp and rely on them. Maybe it’s a friend who offers to regularly drive kids home from school or a spouse who can take over the household finances. Transform your daily to-do list into a go-to list to lighten your load.
Basic wellness is a priority. Getting enough sleep, proper nutrition and exercise can help relieve stress. If time is short, consider combining activities to maximize the benefits for everyone. Can you take the kids for a bike ride? Or if your elderly mother has a doctor’s appointment, is there time for lunch at a favorite spot?
All caregivers need time to refresh and recharge. Making time for yourself, however, may feel impossible. A helpful approach is to literally schedule your time off. Maybe it’s only an hour or every Friday morning but putting a hard appointment on the calendar makes the commitment seem real.
Caregiver stress for adult children caught between two generations affects everyone in the family. Remembering that these middle years are one chapter in life will help you put the situation into perspective.
* Source: apa.org