It’s that time of year: back to school! As a parent, this time can be very hectic. And the emotional barrage you fill if you are sending your child off to college can be bittersweet.
You feel so much pride as your child embarks on this momentous journey, but you also feel pangs of pain as you let go of your little one as the child moves on to the campus community.
You also get overwhelmed with tasks, having to plan, purchase and pack things up. Helping your son or daughter go to college and prepare for such a move is a massive milestone filled with pressure.
But what about your own parents? With the rise in an aging population, especially in the Springfield, PA, area, so many more parents are doubly hit with the task of taking care of their kids’ back to school prep and ensuring their aging loved one, be it their mother or father, is also taken care of. Making sure an aging family member eats right and takes their medications and is safe and secure is the role of a family caregiver.
Today there are many Americans stuck between taking care of their own children and their parents. This phenomenon is dubbed the Sandwich Generation. Perhaps you’re a member of this fast-growing segment of people and didn’t know it.
When they’re not raising kids or working, they spend dozens of hours each week picking up prescriptions, running errands, calling doctors, driving to appointments, researching care options, making sure medications are taken, doing laundry, preparing meals – and worrying.
Add to that stress the burden of financial obligations such as tuition, mortgage payments, home health services and saving for their retirement, and – as you might imagine – sandwich caregivers are often overwhelmed, overworked and just plain exhausted.
Sound familiar? Fortunately, you have options for maximizing your time with your child – while also caring for your senior loved one.
Those options include:
Hold weekly family meetings and make a checklist. Include caregiving and college-related tasks. Divvy up the must-dos and hang the list for all to see. Keep others accountable to avoid heaping all caregiving responsibilities on one person’s shoulders – namely yours.
Ask for help.
You can’t do it all. Know your limits. Setting boundaries with your parent, spouse, siblings and older children are important. Consider seeking outside assistance when possible – the resources available to family caregivers are endless. From financial planners to accountants, a sandwich generation caregiver can get assistance with managing the budget and meeting set goals. Many communities offer caregiver support groups, like this one here that specializes in Dementia Care Tips. Just being able to talk with someone about shared stress is so helpful to family caregivers. Sharing feelings with others helps mitigate stress, rejuvenate your focus and keep you connected.
Short-term respite care from a qualified and dependable home health care agency like Comfort Keepers is a great way to hit pause and catch your breath for a few days of relief while Mom or Dad receive the quality care and attention they need.
Also, respite care is an amazing homecare solution if you have to travel for longer periods of time. Learn more about the respite care services Comfort Keepers Springfield provides today by contacting a Home Care Coordinator. We have a qualified caregiver or home care professional standing by to assist you with all questions regarding payment plans, Medicare, Medicaid, medical insurance, special needs, and more.
Create a budget.
Supporting a child through college while simultaneously providing long-term elder care to an aging family member can easily break a family’s budget, setting you up for the poor house. You need to be fiscally aggressive and set a manageable budget. To do so, determine monthly expenses and how to cover them within your means. But remember to adjust your budget early and often to prepare for any surprises or changes. Kids in school and parents at home can change their needs or lifestyle in an instant and you need to have a budget flexible enough to cope. Encourage your children to also create a budget.
Also, it’s become extremely common for children today to move back in with their parents after they graduate. Budget for this together with your child. Set reasonable financial boundaries such as charging rent if need be. Preparations like this can help manage a multi-generational household budget allowing you to provide the best quality of life for your entire family.
Take care of yourself.
So many family caregivers overlook this simple advice. But it’s hard to care for others when you are not caring for yourself. Avoid caregiver burnout by maintaining the basic life tasks, such as eating right, exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest. Listen to your body and your spirit as those aspects of your self will give you signs that things are getting to be too much. When you need a break, ask family members for a hand. Carve out time to recharge by enlisting the help of home health services agencies with Respite Care. By taking care of your own needs you will be fit and energized, fully capable of giving your senior loved one and your children the full love and care in your heart.
Remeber that it is OK to laugh.
Frustration, feelings of guilt, and plain anger are common among family caregivers. Being able to recognize these emotions and forgive yourself for feeling them is important. You need to be able to feel and to let those feelings go. Then you can get back on track with being positive. So doing things to help lighten your mood, and thus your burden is integral to your own respite. Humor is one of life’s best forms of stress relief.
Being in the Sandwich Generation is tough, but you can navigate the stress and be a successful care provider by following these tips. Balancing the care of your family with your own care is possible, and you can get by with a little help from your friends at Comfort Keepers through respite services!
The Value of Respite Care for Family Caregivers and Seniors
Respite care, provided by a professional caregiver, offers primary family caregivers temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities, giving that person a chance to rest and recharge.
Taking care of an elderly parent can be fulfilling. It offers the opportunity to give back and demonstrate gratitude for all the sacrifices made in your growing years. The experience can strengthen the bond between adult child and parent and boost the quality of life.
Nevertheless, caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding, particularly day after day with no breaks or help from others. And this can harm the health and well-being of the caregiver, and the cared for.
Respite care can be scheduled for just a few hours to give you an opportunity to get out of the house to take care of other responsibilities like shopping or to go out for lunch or golf with a friend. Or you can schedule respite care from the qualified long-term care providers at Comfort Keepers for longer periods, to go on vacation, for instance.
As a family caregiver, you may feel a twinge of guilt wanting to get away. However, scheduled, periodic respite care benefits not just you. It can be a relief and a welcome change of pace for your loved one as well. Getting to spend time with someone else–not that there’s anything wrong with you–can be a treat.
Without breaks, caregiving can bring on stress, resentment, and depression. And you will likely pass on those feelings to the person you are caring for–no matter how much you try not to.
Alternative settings for respite care may include a nursing home or adult day care center. Or you and your loved one may prefer the comfort of the familiar, arranging for other family members, friends or a professional caregiver to fill in for you in your loved one’s home.
For the benefit of your loved one, do not make respite care a surprise. Talk with your loved one in advance and involve him or her in the planning.
A few of the many benefits of respite care include:
- Helps caregivers relax and renew their energy
- Gives families needed time to pursue favorite activities and avoid isolation
- Prevents stresses that could lead to negative consequences such as ill health and divorce
- Offers the person being cared for opportunities for socialization with others
Paying for Respite Care
Most of us would love to have more time and more money, especially when we’re taking care of parents. The next best thing is a break from caregiving that doesn’t break your budget. Respite care costs are the most common question people have when researching the service. Several types of paid respite care can help you out and a there are a few options for paying for in-home respite care. Even if you don’t feel like you need help now, it’s a good idea to know your options in case you need help on short notice later.
In-home care is the easiest type of respite care to tailor to your household schedule. By working with a licensed agency, you can arrange care to get a break when you need it. For example, a respite caregiver in the home for a couple of hours every morning can help get your parent get dressed and eat breakfast while you get ready for work or help your kids get ready for school. Overnight respite care can be a lifesaver when your parent needs round the clock personal care, and you need to sleep. Having a caregiver, you can call on will also take some of the stress out of being sick or needing to travel. Providing backup to you as a primary caregiver for your elderly person and getting them the personal care for their medical needs in their daily lives is the kind of skilled care that is covered by all Comfort Keepers care plans.
The national median daily rate for a full-time in-home health aide was $127 in 2016. The hourly rate ranges from $10 to $30. If your parent needs help with activities of daily living, Medicaid, the VA’s Aid & Attendance program, and private long-term care insurance all pay for in-home care service providers. If you’re using Medicaid or Aid & Attendance, make sure to see if they certify the program. And if you’re helping your parent start an Aid & Attendance application with the VA, know that the approval process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year.