The role of the family caregiver is not an easy one. This especially holds true for members of The Sandwich Generation who find themselves balancing the needs of multiple age groups. The Sandwich Generation is comprised of Americans between ages 40 and 55 who are still caring for a child at home while simultaneously balancing the needs of an Older American.
The caregiving complexity intensifies because each age group has different needs, concerns, and daily obligations. We see clients each week who are facing this challenge. Often, the role of the multi-age caregiver has become an unpaid, full-time job. Due to the demanding nature of this role, these types of caregivers are often more at risk for high levels of stress and burnout.
Through our elder law practice, we see firsthand the challenges caregivers face. We want to share with you three tips that we tell our client family to try when they are working to successfully manage the role of the multi-age caregiver.
1. Make organization a priority.
Although may seem simple, organization of your daily calendar is critical. This will help you make sure you can manage or find help managing the needs of each age group each day. The first step is to determine what type of calendar you need. Should it be digital? Or on paper? If it is digital, make sure this calendar syncs with all of your devices so it is accessible anywhere. If you decide to use a paper calendar, consider color coding it by age or daily responsibilities. Never let a day pass without updating this calendar.
2. Ask for help before you need it.
We all need help at times. The key is to ask for help before you need it. Although it may be hard for you to ask for help, work to overcome this issue and get the help you need from neighbors, family, and friends. The role of the caregiver is challenging. There will be occasions that you need help because both groups you are caring for have an activity, appointment or commitment at the same time. After school sports programs, physical therapy, doctor appointments, and crises, are just a few examples of how the needs of the people you care for can overlap. Don’t wait to find people to assist you at the last minute. Ask now for the help you need.
3. Make time for yourself.
The role of the family caregiver can be tough at times. For many of us, it is a labor of love but this does not mean that it will always be easy. Make sure that you make time for your needs as well. Even if it is just for two or three hours each week to attend to the ongoings of your household, your spouse, or simply getting a breather in your hectic day. Plan now for who can step in for you for a brief respite. Also, look into where you can get help in your daily responsibilities such as housekeeping, yard work, and even preparing meals.
Remember, it is never the wrong time to ask for help as a caregiver. We work with adult children and their parents each day in developing a plan to provide for their elder law needs, including finding ways to pay for the high cost of long-term care facilities. Don’t wait to contact us through our website or call us at (607) 962-6162 about the elder law planning you need to help you and your parent.