Self-Care for the Sandwich Generation

By 4  pm on

Many adults find themselves sandwiched between children and/or teens who still need care – and aging parents who may be suffering from a myriad of health issues, from physical disabilities to Alzheimer’s or dementia. Especially now, when the return to school is an added stress, and the heightened risk of COVID-19 to the elderly is well-documented, the sandwich generation is more squeezed than ever before.

If you are surrounded by people vying for your attention, it’s important to remember that you need to care for yourself before you can give the best of yourself to others. It’s like putting on the oxygen mask on the airplane – be sure your own mask is secure before you help others.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caring for others of any age can be extremely fulfilling – AND extremely challenging. Some signs of stress include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and angry
  • Making mistakes when giving care
  • Feeling alone, isolated, or deserted
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Getting too much sleep
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Using alcohol or drugs, including presciption drugs, to cope
  • Feeling tired frequently
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming easily irritated
  • Feeling constantly worried or sad
  • Having headaches or body aches often

Self-care and Stress Management

Finding the time to care for yourself with proper nutrition, exercise and sleep—as well as getting support from family and friends will help caregivers relieve stress and can prevent burnout. Here are some physical ways to help manage stress:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Participate in extracurricular activities
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Pamper yourself
  • Meditate
  • Stay on track of your own health
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Get regular doctor check ups

There are also mental and emotional ways to help you manage stress:

  • Talk with supportive friends
  • Get support from family members
  • Celebrate small victories
  • Applaud your own efforts
  • Enjoy a good laugh
  • Join a caregiver support group
  • Get help when you need it
  • Set routines and stay organized

Special Challenges in Caring for Seniors with Dementia

Caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia can cause special challenges for the caregiver.

Communication: Communication can be especially challenging between the caregiver and patient. Because an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not remember names, conversations or events, they may repeat questions, have difficulty finding the right words, easily lose their train of thought and speak less frequently.

Behaviors: Individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia can exhibit behavior changes including depression, agitation, aggression, confusion and suspicion. Caregivers can remain calm and patient and accept behaviors as a part of the disease in order to better work through it. Click here to read more about managing these difficult behaviors.

Memory Loss: Memory loss may be mild in the early stages, but as the disease progresses, so will the level of memory loss. Caregivers can be called the wrong name, not be recognized, and more as individuals lose their memory.

If you are feeling sandwiched, squeezed, and stressed, consider contacting Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus, OH. Our professional caregivers can step in almost immediately to give you the relief you need by caring for your senior loved one’s needs. Get in touch today and see how we can help your loved one feel happy and safe – at home.