Caring for aging parents and growing children

Over 20 million people are caught between providing care for their young children and their aging parents.

by Becky Feola — 

Over 20 million people are caught between providing care for their young children and their aging parents. This growing population is known as the Sandwich Generation. Many of its caregivers face overwhelming responsibilities and difficult choices.

Even more challenging is the onset (in record numbers) of parents developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other related dementias. Balancing the care demands for all concerned takes planning, organization and careful consideration.

If your parent(s) lives with you:

  • Your parent will want to feel part of the household. Share expectations and ask if they can handle some responsibilities.
  • Provide a separate room and phone for space and privacy, if possible.
  • Contact local, civic and religious organizations to find programs that will involve your parent in the community.
  • Ask other family members for help — especially temporary care for your parent once in a while to allow you a much-needed break.
  • Ask your children to take responsibility for certain chores, but do not ask them to be the caregiver.

Your children will feel the effects of this situation more than you realize. You might find that you are so preoccupied with your parent’s care that you are neglecting the needs of your children.

Here are some things to consider in balancing everyone’s needs:

  • Give children an opportunity to ask questions about changes in the family. Answer truthfully.
  • With teenagers, discuss future college plans. If money is tight, they may have to alter their plans and attend a less costly school or take a job to help out with the expenses.
  • Encourage your children to pay for school with loans they will be able to repay with future salaries. Do not use your retirement account. Your pension could be the only income that you have later on.
  • Do not neglect your own family when caring for a parent. Even though your parent may have more pressing needs, your first responsibility is to your children who depend on you for everything.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and keep the lines of communication open with your spouse, parents, children and siblings.

 

Becky Feola is an assisted living relocation expert who provides personal, full-service assisted living relocation services to families and individuals through her company, Assisted Living Advantage. beckyfeola@cox.net, www.assistedlivingadvantage.com or 480-419-4202.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2010.

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