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Caregiver Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Last updated on May 30, 2024

Are you feeling exhausted and worn out from tending to your elderly parents while also taking care of your children? You’re not alone—you're part of what's dubbed the "sandwich generation."

The "sandwich generation" is when young adults find themselves supporting two generations—their aging parents and their own children—at the same time.

The Pew Research Foundation found that 23% of adults and more than half of people in their 40s are caring for an aging parent and raising at least one child. This trend is rising—the number of people in the U.S. living in multigenerational households has nearly quadrupled since the 1970s—from 7% in 1971 to 18% in 2021.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

You may feel stuck in the middle, balancing responsibilities on both sides of the care spectrum. Your self-care, unfortunately, may be put on the shelf. However, if you burn out, who will be there to handle the needs of your children and senior parents?

It’s important to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout and plan to streamline your responsibilities before they become overwhelming. Identifying the early signs of caregiver stress can help prevent negative emotional and physical ramifications for yourself and your loved ones.

Monitor for these early signs of caregiver burnout:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of resentment or guilt
  • Lack of joy in family and social time
  • Intense focus on caregiving
  • Loss of interest in exercise and social time
  • Physical pains like backaches or headaches
  • Lack of sleep or sleep disruption
  • Smoking, drinking, or eating too much
  • Sudden weight gain or loss

Pushing through ongoing stress and anxiety can have serious consequences for your mental and physical health, relationships, and ability to care for your loved ones. Studies have shown that as many as one-third of unpaid caregivers report mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or substance use. Schedule time to care for yourself and ask for help if you notice symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Related reading: Moms Caring for Moms: Home Care Helps Caregiver Burnout

How To Care for You, Too

If your children are older teenagers or young adults, encourage them to participate in the care of your elderly parent to give yourself a well-deserved break. When younger generations tend to their grandparents, it lends a helping hand and fosters a stronger, more meaningful connection and bond.

Here are a few tips to help you prioritize self-care:

  • Connect with a support group
    Caregiver support groups are a great way to connect with other members of the sandwich generation. In addition to getting tips to avoid burnout, spending time with other people in your situation can help you feel better.

  • Mind your diet and exercise
    Eating well and being active can boost mental and physical health. Choose fresh produce, limit treats, and engage in moderate exercise, like a daily walk, to enhance your energy and mood.

  • Practice relaxation and mindfulness
    Yoga, meditation, prayer, and deep breathing can help relieve stress. Even short sessions of mindfulness can yield significant results.

If self-care isn’t helping you avoid burnout, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to improve your physical and mental health.

Related reading: 10 Realistic Ways to Manage Caregiver Stress

Visiting Angels Is Here to Help

Members of the sandwich generation were raised to believe we could do anything, and we could do it alone. But the truth is, trying to do everything for everyone all the time will leave you feeling burned out. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Prioritize self-care to feel happier, healthier, and better equipped to care for the people who depend on you.

Consider respite care support from Visiting Angels if you need a helping hand. Respite care is short-term or temporary home care that provides relief from your duties as the primary caregiver. Services are flexible and can be scheduled for a few hours, overnight, or even a few days. Professional in-home caregivers can also help on a regular weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.

Contact your local home care office to learn how Visiting Angels can support your loved one. Schedule a free home care consultation today.

If you're interested in our compassionate home care services for you or a loved one, contact your nearest Visiting Angels home care agency today or call 800-365-4189.
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