Many of you reading this are members of the so-called sandwich generation, caring for children (or grandchildren) on one side and aging parents on the other. You’re anxious and overtired. Your own interests and needs have taken a back seat. And if you’re a woman the burden is also an emotional one because the caring, nurturing tasks land in your lap.
Sandwich Generation caregivers are prone to more headaches, backaches and colds. We suffer from stress and insomnia as worry consumes us. We need to make some changes before we have a stress-induced breakdown or make ourselves physically ill.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that self care is a luxury you don’t deserve or have time for. Taking care of your own needs will ensure you stay healthier and stronger — so the whole sandwich benefits not just the bread on either side!
Self Care Tips (This is the Part You Need to Read)
1. Know when to pull back. Feelings of guilt or responsibility for our parents cause many of us to overextend ourselves and try to do too much for them. Re-evaluate your actual caregiving responsibilities to your parent, figure out what they really need from you, and scale back if it makes sense.
2. Share the duties. Let family members, including your children if old enough, know how much you do and how tired you sometimes feel. Often people want to help but don’t know where to start. Your guidance will make it easier for them to step up. Also seek out organizations that offer respite care, seniors day programs and outings to give your parent and yourself a break.
3. Forget perfection. Maybe Mom and Dad’s place isn’t as clean and tidy as it used to be. Maybe they don’t care as much about their appearance. Take a deep breath. Smile. And let the small stuff slide.
4. Live in the moment. This is hard when you’re racing around trying to get everything done. But with aging parents, each day is a gift. Instead of trying to organize it, relish it!
5. Help for you. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, angry, or frustrated? Talking out your troubles with a professional listener can cut them down in size and open the door to new solutions. I’m here to help, just a click away.