Many of you are members of what is referred to as the sandwich generation, meaning you are caring for children, or grandchildren, on one side and aging parents on the other. If this is true for you, you may benefit from a few self care tips.
After all, you may be anxious and overtired as you manage the emotions and concerns of others while your own interests and needs have taken a back seat. And if you’re a woman, the burden also could be an emotional one because the caring, nurturing tasks often land in your lap. You may even find yourself caring for more than one older adult, such as an aging parent and an older aunt.
Sandwich generation caregivers are prone to more headaches, backaches and colds. There is the possibility of being consumed by stress and insomnia. Taking care of your own health is essential, daily changes can help you avoid stress-induced breakdowns and physical ailments.
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 family, every generation, thrives.
Self Care Tips
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 parents, 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. If needed, seek out organizations that offer respite care, seniors day programs, and outings to give your parents 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. Self care tips include acceptance. Take a deep breath. Smile. 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 is available. 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. Personal counseling can help, and it is only a click away.
A counselor can help you weave self care tips into your days and also help you pinpoint areas where you may need more support. For example, the finances of your family could be a topic that is weighing on your mind but is rarely discussed. Taking the time to talk openly about finances with your aging parents could be a relief. Then, future costs can be assessed and planned for.
Caregiving can be stressful. Implementing a few self care tips can help you be your best self. Then, you are able to give time, attention, and love to others.
Kendall Van Blarcom is a senior helping seniors. Contact Van Blarcom Consulting today for help with your personal problems. Or, reach out to provide support for an older adult in your life.