Tips for the “Sandwich Generation”: Caring for Aging Parents

Our current generation of young to middle-aged adults, often called “Millennials,” are also sometimes referred to as the “sandwich generation.” Due to having children later in life than their predecessors, and parents living longer than ever, many adults find themselves caring for both young children and aging parents at the same time. This can be a stressful and difficult situation for anyone, and managing the needs of everyone at once feels overwhelming and sometimes nearly impossible. Here are some tips to help this “sandwich generation” with caring for aging parents. 

Tips on Caring for Aging Parents

Accept Your Role 

While your situation may be less than ideal, it is what it is. You need to take care of your child or children, and you also love your parents. They may need more and more help as time goes on with things like household tasks, technology, and medical care. While age comes with many benefits, it is also often accompanied by increasing medical needs. The first step to handling all of your responsibilities is acknowledging and accepting them. It’s also important to acknowledge that this situation is both uniquely challenging and beyond your control. There are many things you can do to balance everyone’s needs and live a joyful and fulfilling life, but it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and discouraged at times. You are only one person, and like all humans, you have limitations. 

Have Realistic Expectations

It’s simply not possible to be everything to everyone all the time. While caring for both children and aging parents simultaneously, you may sometimes feel like you’re juggling a large quantity of plates in the air at any given moment. It’s important to note that while some of the plates are glass and will break if dropped, many are plastic. They can safely be dropped or set down for the moment, and later picked back up, without incurring permanent damage. 

Set yourself up for success with realistic expectations. How much time and energy can you devote to caring for your parents? If you have babies or very young children, you may not be able to do as much as you’d like yourself. If your children are older, or you have siblings, close friends, or another type of substantial support system, you may be able to do more. What type of financial support will be you expected to provide? Is this expectation realistic? Do your parents expect to move in with you at some point? If so, is your home large enough for your parents to move in with you?

Setting realistic expectations may mean disappointing someone. It’s okay if everyone is not completely satisfied with how much you can provide for them. It’s more important that you feel you have prioritized your time, money, and energy in the ways that matter most to you. 

Enlist Help

As we’ve previously mentioned, you are just one human. It is entirely unrealistic to expect you to care for a child or multiple children and a parent or parents 100% of the time. Where can you get help? If you have a supportive partner, perhaps they can take on more of the childcare so that you can spend more time helping your parents. If you have siblings or other family members, how can they help you care for your parents? You do not have to do all of this alone.

If you don’t have a spouse, partner, or family members who are able to provide more support, it’s okay to enlist some hired help. Home healthcare companies will send nurses out to help with any medical needs your parents may require. You can hire cleaning services or handymen to help your parents with household tasks and maintenance. A yard or garden service could be a lifesaver if your parents have property that needs to be maintained. Don’t assume that just because your parents need help, you need to be the one to provide all of it. It’s okay to get others involved! 

Consider Senior Living Communities

If you find yourself stressed out because of the demands of being the “sandwich generation,” it might be time for your parents to consider a senior living community. Senior living is unquestionably the easiest and most stress-free way to care for your aging parents. In a senior living community, your parents can choose from any level of care or assistance. You can choose from fully independent living to full-time nursing care. Even in a fully independent living community, your parents will have a much easier time managing their home, expenses, and lifestyle. All bills, rent, and utilities are included in the monthly cost of the community, which makes budgeting easier. Food, cleaning, laundry, excursions, grounds care, gym, exercise classes, and social events are also usually included in this cost. This will make it much, much easier for your parents to get all the help they need. It will also make it much easier for you to relax and enjoy spending time with them, while also having the time and energy to care for your own family.

While some seniors are resistant to moving into “a home,” modern senior living communities are not like “nursing homes” of the past. For example, Stellar Living communities feature well-appointed private apartments, beautifully landscaped grounds, chef-prepared meals available 24/7, and entertainment specialists. Senior living is really just living well, tailored especially for older adults. Tour a community near you today and see the Stellar difference. Your parents are going to love it–and you will, too.