How to care for your elderly parents while raising teens?
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Are you part of the sandwich generation? Modern health and technological breakthroughs mean people live longer and spend more time with loved ones. However, many families must take care of aging parents and their children.
Raising teenagers is difficult enough on its own, as is taking care of your parents as they age and face new challenges. People in the sandwich generation trying to juggle these responsibilities simultaneously face more stress every day.
Remember these tips to balance your caregiving responsibilities and ensure everyone in your family is safe, healthy, and happy.
Keep open lines of communication
The old cliché “communication is key” still rings true. Between driving parents to doctors’ appointments and teenagers to athletic practices, if you want to get everything done, you need to ensure everyone is clearly communicating with each other.
Sometimes a simple conversation is all it takes to solve several problems. Don’t forget that you’re a family — you want to find a happy medium that works for everyone.
Take time to figure out everyone’s plans and combine them in one centralized schedule you can check frequently. Write down back-to-school nights, band practices, birthday parties, pharmacy pickups, assisted living home visits, and any other events you need to keep track of.
Technology is more ubiquitous than ever — make use of it. Your teen probably has a cellphone, so implement clear rules for how and when they should let you know where they are and when they’ll be home. You’re never too old to learn to use a smartphone, so ensure your parents understand how to call or text you in an emergency or just to stay in touch.
Being a caregiver for two generations is complicated. When you feel responsible for everything, it may be tempting to drop whatever you’re doing to handle the latest emergency — even if it turns out not to be one at all. However, you must establish your priorities, set boundaries and follow through.
Be proactive and delegate responsibility as necessary. If you have siblings or other relatives who are in a position to help, determine who will take mom to her eye appointment next week ahead of time. If you’re married, ensure you and your partner are on the same page about carpooling, grocery shopping, big games, opening nights, and other important events.
Find effective support systems
There’s no shame in asking for help when you can’t do it alone. However, what works for one person may not work for another, so you might have to do some searching.
For example, you could reach out to professional organizations, such as assisted care facilities or school counselors. Whether you’re deciding how to care for your parents full-time or find a counselor for your child, these groups can help you address serious issues with your teens or aging parents.
On the other hand, maybe you just want someone to talk to. Find a group of fellow sandwich-generation adults who understand what you’re going through. Sharing your struggles and the solutions you’re creating will bring you closer together and relieve the pressure you feel.
Make use of available resources
Today’s world may be complicated, but it’s also advanced. As a child of aging parents and a parent to teenagers, endless resources are available to help you juggle your responsibilities.
In addition, to support groups for yourself, you can find community programs that give your parents the chance to get out of the house and socialize with their peers. You’ll get a respite from your responsibilities if you’re a full-time caregiver. You can find similar hobbies or volunteer activities for your teens.
Access to medical care is a major stressor when dealing with elderly parents or reckless teenagers. By 2030, all members of the baby boomer generation will be over 65 — which means health care will be in high demand. Fortunately, many healthcare facilities incorporate new technologies that make staying in touch with doctors easier than ever. You’re able to relax when you know help is available if necessary.
Make yourself a priority
It may be easier said than done, but focusing on yourself should be one of your top priorities. You’ve probably heard that you can’t pour from an empty cup. That’s especially true when you’re caring for two other generations.
Establish a time for yourself and be firm with your boundaries. Maybe you have a daily yoga practice or need a bigger restorative occasion, like a weekend getaway. Whatever rejuvenates your mind and body, give yourself the space you need to be your best self.
Caring for elderly parents while raising teens
Acting as a caregiver for an older generation while raising the next requires a lot of patience and a little grace. Remember, you’re just one person. Take care of yourself and use the resources available to look out for your family and ensure everyone is happy and healthy.