Almost half (47%) of 40 and 50-year-old adults have a parent age 65 or older who they care for while also raising a young child or supporting a grown child. Also known as the "sandwich generation," these family caregivers are pulled in many different directions, making it difficult to balance everyday life. They may be faced with daily questions such as:
- Can I afford to pay for my loved one's medication while supporting my son in college?
- Do I have enough time to make it to my daughter's soccer game after bringing my parent to their physical therapy session?
- How do I find time to take care of myself?
It can feel impossible to manage everything. There are a variety of challenges sandwich generation family caregivers face each day.
Taking Care of Themselves
It's easy for family caregivers to put their own needs aside while they are busy taking care of everyone else. They may miss their own doctor appointments, skip out on exercising or making a healthy meal for themselves. While the short-term benefits may seem worth it, not taking care of yourself can leave you feeling drained, getting sick or add more stress to your life. It's important to take time for yourself as a caregiver so you don't become burnout. Try to take at least 30 minutes a day to do something for yourself that you enjoy. Maybe it's talking a brisk walk or reading a book. Don't forget to fill yourself up each day so you're able to provide the care your loved one deserves.
Balancing a Full-Time Job
On top of raising their own family and caring for their elderly loved one, family caregivers often also balance working a full-time job. It may be very demanding and stressful - adding to the stress of being a family caregiver. Talk with your employer about your situation and see if it's possible for you to create a more flexible work schedule. Look into the benefits your company offers, such as senior or child care benefits, or time off from work using the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Paying for your own household needs, plus your loved one's medical bills, groceries and other care needs can put you in financial stress. You may be financially prepared to pay for your children's college tuition or your own retirement - but not the expense of caring for your loved one. Although it may be uncomfortable to talk with your loved one about their financial situation, it's important to discuss with them about how you are paying for their caring needs. There may also be different ways you can pay for your loved one's caring needs, such as selling the family home, using investments or Veteran's or government aid.
While there are many different challenges family caregivers face in the sandwich generation, they want their loved one to receive the quality care they deserve. If you're a family caregiver or thinking about becoming one, remember to reach out to others for help and take time for yourself. It's important to know you have support while caring for your loved one.
Are you new to balancing caregiving for an aging parent with any of the challenges outlined above? Download our complimentary eBook, "Becoming a Family Caregiver" to learn more about balancing your life.