Are you or is someone you know one of the more than 50 million Americans providing care for a loved one? If so, then you might also fall into the "sandwich generation," those family caregivers who are "sandwiched" between taking care of an aging parent while still raising their own children. When added to the many responsibilities of their own daily lives, including work and raising their own family, caring for a loved one with declining health can be quite an undertaking. In addition to the physical and financial strain of “being everywhere at once,” Sandwich Generation caregivers bear a complicated emotional burden. The worry, pain, and sorrow they already feel over a parent’s illness are compounded by the demanding challenges of caregiving. Feelings of powerlessness and guilt are prevalent in family caregivers — for repeatedly having to “choose” one family need over another, for feeling that no choice can ever be the “right” one, and even for feeling they have no choice at all. Here are 10 tips for family caregivers from the National Family Caregivers Association:
- Remember to be good to yourself. Love, honor, and value yourself. You’re doing a very hard job, and you deserve some quality time, just for you.
- Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
- When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
- Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition. Information is empowering.
- There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.
- Trust your instincts. Most of the time they’ll lead you in the right direction.
- Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
- Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.
- Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.