November 4, 2019
November is National Family Caregivers Month. This information will help family caregivers find ways to manage their many responsibilities.
If you or someone you know is caring for an aging parent and their own family, you know a member of the “sandwich generation.” These caregivers juggle the responsibilities of both their younger and senior loved ones. About 60% of sandwich generation caregivers also work outside the home.
For family caregivers, this combination often leads to overbooked days and sleepless nights. To honor those who take on this role, November has been designated as National Family Caregivers Month. This year’s theme, “Caregiving Around the Clock,” shines the spotlight on the around-the-clock challenges family caregivers experience.
Coping with the Challenges of Family Caregiving
Studies show people involved in caring for several generations of their family suffer from higher rates of headaches, digestive problems, back pain, and depression. The stress and frantic pace of their days can also weaken their immune system. This puts them at higher risk for colds and the flu.
Finding positive ways to manage the demands of caregiving is essential to protecting caregivers’ physical and mental health. Here are a few suggestions to explore if you or someone you know is a sandwich generation caregiver:
Ask for and accept help:
Caregivers sometimes hesitate to accept help. One of the best ways a caregiver can protect their health and ability to support those they love is understanding no one can do it alone. Accept help when it is offered. If no one offers, ask.
Connect with respite providers:
Another option to consider is respite care. There are a variety of senior care organizations that provide short-term support, including assisted living communities and home care agencies. Some churches also have friendly visitor programs whereby volunteers visit homebound seniors.
Practice healthy self-care:
This may seem unrealistic when you are overwhelmed with the responsibilities of sandwich generation caregiving, but self-care is vital. A healthy diet, exercise, and sleep are essential. So is staying on track with your own medical appointments and routine screenings.
Join a support group:
No one understands the unique challenges of caring for several generations of your family like a fellow sandwich generation caregiver. By joining an online caregiver support group, you can ask for and share insights about managing the job.
Explore convenience services:
In recent years, a variety of convenience services have made their way into even the most rural communities. From curbside grocery pick-up to home-delivered meal programs, there are a variety of ways caregivers can simplify their days. Think about the tasks that eat away at your schedule and explore avenues for handling them. Your local agency on aging might have services in place to help. Call to learn more about programs like lawn care, transportation, and Meals on Wheels.
Finally, set realistic expectations for yourself. It is okay to scale back traditional celebrations into more manageable ones. For example, while you might want to host an elaborate holiday dinner, a potluck might be better.
At Legacy Senior Living, we know the vital role respite can play in supporting a caregiver. Our respite guests enjoy the same care, services, and amenities as our long-term residents. We extend an open invitation for you to visit us and learn more. Call the Legacy community nearest you to set up a time.