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Balancing Being a Caregiver for Both Elderly Parents and School-Aged Children

Are you currently caring for an elderly parent(s) while also raising children? Adults facing this scenario are often referred to as being part of the “sandwich generation” and an unprecedented number of people find themselves trying to pull off this challenging balancing act. The typical parent already has to manage a home, finances, career, child-rearing, marriage, friendships, and other family obligations. Now add an elderly or sick parent into the equation, and you can see why so many adults are burning out fast. That’s why we put together the tips below to help you keep your head above water and feel less overwhelmed!

1. Guilt Be Gone

When your time is spread thin, it’s nearly impossible to give everyone 100%. Many adults caring for elderly or sick parents and school-aged children feel like they’re falling short in other areas of their life. Perfection is unattainable in this scenario, and it’s important to understand that you have a finite amount of time to give. Create a list of top priorities for the week and know that anything and everything you are able to do helps, and it matters. Identify where you can implement some support or assistance, and don’t get stuck in the constant “coulda-shoulda-woulda’s” because that is counter-productive. You have a lot on your plate, and sometimes just getting through the week is an accomplishment

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2. Self-Care

It might not seem feasible, but it’s imperative to make sure you’re filling your own cup and not just constantly draining it. If you regularly feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and unfulfilled, you’re going to break down. You give so much of yourself to care for your loved ones; make taking care of yourself equally important. You can only provide high-quality care when your own needs are met. Schedule a regular time to relax, take part in hobbies/activities, spend time with friends, exercise, etc.

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3. Get Organized

As a caregiver, you have many responsibilities to keep track of. This is where organizational skills and tools are incredibly helpful. Set yourself up for success by using a planner (whether physical or digital) that also has a space for notes. Utilize the notes section as a catch-all for your thoughts, notes, and tasks. This way, important information is in one place, and you don’t have to rely on an overwhelmed brain to remember everything. Check out OnPlanners.com for free digital daily planner printouts, so you can fill out your daily plan, schedule, to-dos, notes, and more.

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4. Accept Help

When someone offers to help, say yes! Don’t hesitate to ask for help as well; oftentimes community groups or faith organizations can step in to offer support. Make sure to also research and learn what options you have for assistance. Many schools will offer guidance and assistance and there is a plethora of services available for the elderly. Check out eldercaredirectory.org to learn more about state resources available for senior citizens and their caregivers.

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5. Be Honest and Assertive

You might be resistant to sharing your caregiver status with those around you, but you might have access to better support and empathy if you speak up!  Your boss and HR department should be notified, as they may be willing to work with you to provide more flexibility, and at the very least, understanding. Many caregivers take on more work than they can realistically handle. You need to accept that there are only 24 hours in the day, and there is only so much you can do.

Be practical about what you can reasonably achieve and have an honest conversation with your boss about your situation. Reiterate your dedication to your role and organization but let them know about any upcoming projects for which you may need to adjust deadline dates or get additional support. It’s important to get ahead of this conversation, so you can continue to meet your boss’ expectations and find out what options are available.

You might also need to be honest and assertive with friends and family. Perhaps you can’t do all the things you usually would at home or see your friends as often. Again, it’s helpful to communicate this, so they understand you have a lot going on and that they are still important to you.

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