SEEKING HELP. AND FINDING IT.
IN TODAY’S SOCIETY, THE “SANDWICH GENERATION” often finds itself pulled in two directions, providing help for both younger and older members of their families. Our children, now returning from college, are having a hard time finding work, so they’re back home, while our parents, who were once independent are becoming increasingly dependent on us for their care. Our adult children may just be looking for financial support, but the factors affecting the relationship between caregivers and aging relatives are much more intricate.
Caring for older parents is a new experience for everyone, whether dealing with a parent who is not as mobile as he or she once was, or one who is requires an assisted living or nursing facility. To find your way through these uncertain times, you need to seek out knowledgeable resources that can help reduce the stress of your family’s changing dynamic.
Begin this transition by looking to local social service organizations and government agencies for information on elder advocacy/education classes, counseling and caregiver respite through adult day care programs. Ask questions: gain an understanding of expectations, health requirements and medical limitations
Don’t be afraid to seek individual or group support sessions for you and other family members affected by the uncomfortable shifting of generational roles. Counseling will provide an outlet for you to discuss your feelings with professionals and peers facing similar issues.
Don’t impose limits on yourself or your parent during this transitory period. In the early stages of aging, sometimes a little help coordinating transportation will allow your loved one to stay active by visiting with friends or volunteering with local charities and civic organizations. Their independence and self-worth will be enhanced by learning new skills or using their past experiences to help them feel valued as part of their family and community.
Although this new lifestyle may be overwhelming, it’s important for adult children who are caregivers to stay connected to their spouses, friends and their own kids. These lines of communication help decrease feelings of being alone or worse, resentful of this unexpected responsibility. Most of all, take time for yourself–continue to plan for your own life as you navigate through your new family environment.
Tricia O’Hare is the Coordinator of East End Development & Communications for the Family Service League, a Long Island nonprofit human services agency that serves 50,000 people annually. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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