Health and Wellness for the Sandwich Generation
Does your to-do list include picking up your child from basketball practice, helping them with homework, putting the finishing touches on a presentation for work, and picking up your mom’s prescription from the pharmacy and dropping it off to her? If you are in the thick of juggling professional obligations with family ones that include caring for your kids and for your aging parents, you are not alone. In fact, you are a part of a whole group of people called the Sandwich Generation.
The Sandwich Generation is a term used to describe people just like you, who are trying to care for their growing kids while also picking up more responsibilities for their aging parents, all while keeping up with a busy career. Some members of the Sandwich Generation are hands-on caregivers for their older loved ones while others are coordinating medical appointments and billing questions on behalf of aging parents. No matter what responsibilities you currently have in regard to your older loved ones, one thing is certain: you need to have the right habits in place in order to stay healthy yourself.
Health and the Sandwich Generation
If you’re a member of the Sandwich Generation, you are likely stressed out. In fact, most family caregivers, no matter how big or small their caregiving role, are at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Most family caregivers feel exhausted due to sleep challenges and the mental fatigue of caring for so many people who need them.
In addition to mental health conditions, members of the Sandwich Generation are also more likely to experience issues with their physical health. They are more likely to get sick and stay sick longer than their peers without family caregiving responsibilities. In addition, they are at an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, and even substance abuse.
Healthy Habits For Your Busy Lifestyle
There is good news, though. Members of the Sandwich Generation are already resilient and up for any challenge. This attitude can work for your benefit if you apply it to implementing healthy habits and lifestyle choices that will support your overall mental and physical health.
This can feel like it is impossible, especially when you are trying to keep up with your fast-paced life. However, aiming to get to bed at the same time each evening and waking up at the same time each morning can positively affect your overall wellness almost right away. Try to create a consistent bedtime routine, that doesn’t include screens, that will signal your body it is time to wind down.
Go easy on the caffeine.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to give up your morning coffee in order to stay healthy. However, you can be sure you are also drinking plenty of water throughout the day and switching to decaf in the afternoon.
Talk to your workplace.
You might find that utilizing your Family Medical Leave Act benefits can give you back some time and margin. Speak with your supervisor about your situation and see if you can begin to work a few days from home or alter your work schedule so that you can have enough time to support your loved one without burning out yourself.
Talk to your physician.
Your primary care doctor should be aware of your caregiving role, no matter how small you think it is. This way, your physician can keep their eyes open for any signs of caregiver fatigue or burnout that you might be exhibiting. Your doctor can also help you in case of depression or anxiety.
Walk it off.
Any type of physical movement can benefit your overall wellness, including your mental health. Make a commitment to yourself to take a 20-minute walk daily. Bring the dog, listen to a podcast, anything you need to do to get those endorphins flowing.
Ask for help.
Perhaps the most difficult task is learning how to ask for help. You don’t have to tackle your long to-do list alone. See if you can ask a sibling to take over specific caregiver duties or ask a friend to help you out with carpool responsibilities for your kids. Your partner can also step in to assist with house chores and other tasks that run you down.
Know when to enlist professional help.
You can benefit from paying professionals to help you out as well. If your older parent starts to require more assistance with meal preparation, for example, you might want to hire an in-home caregiver to support them with that task so that you can take it off your plate.
Similarly, if you are noticing that your loved one is simply not thriving at home, a senior living community can often be a saving grace for them, and for you. At iNavigate, we work with family members and their aging parents in order to find the best senior living option for everyone. Our personalized approach ensures we provide a list of communities that will meet the financial need and personal preferences of the older adult while providing peace of mind for the adult child. Best of all, our services are free to you.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation. In the meantime, take care of yourself so that you can safely take care of others.
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