July is Sandwich Generation Month and we know this situation is especially difficult for those providing dementia care.
Let’s start with a definition: the “sandwich generation” is comprised of individuals caring for their children as well as their own aging parents at the same time.
This has become increasingly common today as parents of the mid 1950s through the 1970s started to begin delaying childbirth until they were into their early to mid-20s, yet were still having relatively large families. Thus these younger children are now caring for those aging parents as well as their own families and children.
This can be difficult enough if mom and dad are having physical health issues, but becomes even more stressful if they need dementia care. As the dementia progresses, individuals need more care for common everyday tasks – called activities of daily living - bathing, dressing, eating, showering, as well as instrumental activities of daily living – cleaning, cooking, shopping.
Here are some great tips from an article by empowering parents:
- “Stop the screech”…. Simply put, this means to step back when an issue arises and ask if anyone is in immediate danger. If not, it is not a true crisis and you can slow down and contemplate what to do.
- Skip the guilt feelings. Yes, easier said than done. But those feelings don’t do anything to help solve the problem… they just make you feel worse. Nuff said!
- Ask for help and/or accept it. When people offer to help, take them at their word and say, “yes, thank you!” Or if you need to ask for help, that’s OK to. Ask family, friends, neighbors, or you can engage an in-home senior care agency that provides dementia care. Whichever you choose, try to match the help you need to the person or group best suited to provide it. That will reduce additional stress.
- Include your children in the care of your parent. It can be as much or as little as they can handle, but it may surprise you how it can help out and build better relationships… not to mention learning caring, empathy, and respect by your children.
- Take a respite! That’s a fancy word meaning take some time for yourself. You’ll be amazed what a few hours away can do to reduce your overall stress level. Be sure to check out # 3 above so you don’t have to worry while you are away! This is especially true for dementia care when it can feel as if you are in a futile situation.
- Be a “social animal” – at least once in a while. Don’t let this time remove all your personal social relationships. They are most definitely healthy for you and can become a source of… you guessed it… #3 above! In this case, let them offer to help!
From our blog archives: Elder Care Strategies for the Sandwich Generation and Their Employers