Balancing Multiple Generations in the Same Household
Are you a caregiver for your aging parent, as well as your own family and children? You’re a part of the sandwich generation, a generation of people in their 30s, 40s or 50s who are responsible for bringing up their own children and for caring for their aging parents as well. This month, we celebrate YOU! That’s because July is National Sandwich Generation Month. According to the Pew Research Center, 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child age 18 or younger. One in seven middle-aged adults financially supports both an aging parent and their child or children. If you have a parent in home health or hospice and are also raising your own family in San Francisco and elsewhere, read on.
Caregiving is a Job
Having more than one generation to care for is like working overtime or taking on a second job, points out AgingCare. The #1 stressor among the sandwich generation is trying to balance everyone’s needs. Who takes priority at what times? How can you balance not only caring for your kids and parents but also cooking, cleaning, going to work, etc.? There are certainly many challenges that come with being in the sandwich generation, with the one universal issue being how to carefully weigh all of your loved ones’ needs.
Difficult choices are the hallmark of the sandwich generation. Your own kids may be involved in sports, musical performances, dance recitals, school functions, award ceremonies…the list goes on and on. You may feel you are constantly being stretched between meeting the many different needs of your children and the senior in your life. If you’re working part or full time, you also have to manage your professional workload with the health care and other needs of your family and parents.
Perhaps you’ve even used your vacation time as “caregiving time” to get your mom to her doctor’s appointments, your kids to their doctors’ appointments, and take trips to the ER when your dad falls. Quality time with your own family, not to mention the time to yourself to recharge, can quickly fall by the wayside.
Making it Work
According to the AARP, three-generation households are becoming more common in this country, nearly double the rate of a generation ago. In fact, 64 million people, equal to 20 percent of the U.S. population, live with multiple generations under one roof. Whether you have a small house or large, whether you work full time, part time or not at all, or whether you have one kid or five, the challenges of managing multiple generations under one roof can be staggering — especially when they’re compounded by serious health issues or immobility for your aging parents.
First of all, if you’re a member of the sandwich generation and you work outside the home, you need to speak up and have a conversation with your employer about your responsibilities. Hopefully, you work for someone who cares about their employees’ work/life balance. Ask for flexibility to telecommute perhaps once or twice a week, suggests Forbes. Ask about all the benefits and resources available to you, and ask if your employer offers coverage for counseling, as caregivers may suffer from depression, anxiety and other issues that can quickly impact mental and emotional health if not addressed.
It’s important to protect your own sanity, making some time for yourself and your own family, while at the same time making sure everyone is healthy and happy. Here are some tips:
- Protect your own identity: What is the essence of who you are? What makes you happy? If that’s going to rock concerts, playing a musical instrument, doing yoga twice a week or taking cooking classes, so be it. Make time just for yourself and don’t lose what makes you unique and happy.
- Reprioritize: Yes, it’s important to set daily, weekly and long-term priorities, but it’s also important to reprioritize as circumstances change, which they will — a lot.
- Get organized: There are only so many hours in each day and only so much of yourself you can spread around. You can’t afford to waste a moment. Get organized, come up with a plan, and follow it so you can maximize your time and how you spend it.
- Accept offers of help: This is where so many of us go wrong. We think we can do it all. We can’t. Well, maybe you can for a little while, but eventually you will burn out, and what good will you be to anyone at that point? No one is superhuman. Accept help when it is offered, and don’t be afraid to reach out for caregiving help from a professional when you need a break.
- Keep your tank full: Running on empty won’t help anyone. Constantly fill your tank with energy so it can sustain you for the long haul. Eat well, exercise, sleep, get counseling if you need it, and hire respite care. Remember, every responsibility requires emotional and mental energy.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Need a break from caregiving? Pathways offers respite care as part of our home health services. We can send home health aides to your home to help with your loved one’s personal care and grooming so you can tend to your own commitments for a little while. Everyone needs a break. We can help. Contact us today at 888-978-1306.