Bridging Generations: Balancing Parenting and Caring for Aging Loved Ones

Many seniors choose to age in place and stay in their homes after exiting the workforce.

On the surface, it can be a more practical retirement plan than moving to a senior living community.

However, this has consequences that affect many adult children who are raising their own kids and must take on a caregiving role for aging parents. 

These people are called the sandwich generation because they’re caught between two generations needing care — their kids and senior parents. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some tips for splitting your limited time and energy between multiple roles.

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1. Create a Schedule

Approach your obligations as a to-do list you must complete by the end of the day. First, determine the level of care your senior parent needs.

If they need minor assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), a couple of hours broken into blocks of, say, 20 minutes to monitor and supervise them might be enough. 

Similarly, identify the level of needs and capabilities of your kids. Let them do tasks they can do on their own, like bathing or preparing for school. Schedule all your tasks throughout the day and offer assistance on tasks your senior parents and children find challenging. Otherwise, allow them to be independent. You can stay organized this way. 

2. Delegate Tasks

If you have other family members available at certain times of the day or on the weekends, talk to them about delegating some tasks. A sibling may be available to prepare meals during weekends, do laundry, complete housekeeping chores or give medication reminders after work hours every day. Never hesitate to reach out for help. 

New research suggests that people often underestimate the willingness of others to help and how helping can make them feel happier. More hands are better than two, so encourage everyone to get on deck to lighten your caregiving load. It’s also beneficial for your mental and physical health.

3. Set Boundaries

Has your senior mom ever awakened you at 2 a.m. only to complain the light in the kitchen won’t turn on? Drawing a line differentiates between keeping your sanity and spiraling out of depression. Be firm about your boundaries unless it’s an emergency that needs immediate attention. 

Communicate your availability with everyone, especially if your senior loved one lives with you. Inform them when you’re open to listening to their concerns. Do the same with your children if they’re old enough. If you have a job, avoid tackling work-related tasks after office hours. 

Setting boundaries is essential in maintaining work-life balance and other priorities without compromising. Assign certain hours of the day to allow everyone to air their concerns. For example, you can tell your kids you’re available for them from 6 to 7 p.m. and your senior relatives from 7 to 8 p.m. 

4. Join Support Groups

It’s inevitable to feel like you’re alone in the journey and no one understands you, but millions of caregivers go through the same experience as you have.

They also juggle parenting and elder care. One thing that helps them keep up with the overwhelming obligations is the support of fellow caregivers. 

Caregiver support groups are a place where everyone understands, encourages and comforts each other. It’s a tight-knit community of people with the same experience but different stories to share, so you’d want to be part of it.

Check for a caregiver support group in your city or search online. Most of these groups are free to join. You can meet and learn many things from other caregivers, such as strategies to manage stress, how to balance caregiving with work and personal life and more. 

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5. Get Proper Caregiving Training

Family caregivers who provide palliative care are “second-order patients” who also require care. People often overlook proper caregiving training as many adult children without medical backgrounds assume a complex role without much choice. As a result of being emotionally, intellectually and physically unprepared for the responsibility, they become secondary patients at a high risk for serious health issues. 

Without learning stress management, problem-solving and time management skills, they become vulnerable to emotional, cognitive and physical decline. 

If you’re unable to get caregiving training, make time to learn about caregiving by self-educating. There are abundant online resources about caregiving that can teach you self-care strategies to shield yourself from the adverse health outcomes of being a caregiver. 

6. Hire Home Care Services

Recognizing signs of stress and burnout is a skill caregivers must possess. Many families end up with depression, burnout and other psychological problems because they’ve allowed pressure to accumulate and take over their health. As a caregiver, you are equally responsible for caring for your health as you care for your kids and senior loved ones.

Respite is vital for caregivers to balance parenting and elder care. By stepping away from a stressful situation, you can provide for your own needs, whether it’s to recuperate from stress, reclaim your social life or spend more time with your kids.  

Hire home care services and enlist a professional caregiver to perform your care obligations while you recover. Don’t feel guilty about hiring outside help as it’s for your well-being. 

Self-Care Is Key to Balance Parenting and Senior Care Obligations

Caregiving is a noble job and people find it fulfilling and meaningful.

However, it takes prioritizing your own needs to successfully juggle caring for your kids and senior parents.

All of these six tips come down to self-care. Honoring your needs and well-being before others is essential, so the people who depend on you can receive adequate care. 

Julie Higgins
Author
Julie is a Staff Writer at momooze.com. She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.