The holidays may be filled with joy, but for the ever-growing number of aging Americans and those who care for them this otherwise celebratory season can become mired in challenges.
The stress of visitors, eventful meals, gift giving and social obligations can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially for those juggling busy schedules with caring for an elderly family member.
An estimated 15 million Americans are sandwiched between two generations and working to support both, according to the Pew Research Center. Known as the “Sandwich Generation,” these adults struggle to balance caring for their children and their elderly parents.
“Staying organized is especially important during this time of year to ensure that loved ones aren’t ignored in the hustle and bustle of the season,” says Mark Armstrong, founder and CEO of ComForcare Senior Services and At Your Side Home Care, an international senior care franchise that provides in-home, non-medical care to seniors and others in need of assistance.
Armstrong is offering some juggling tips for family caregivers:
• Map out doctor’s appointments, prescription pick-up dates, school holiday pageants and other planned events on a calendar or on your smart phone to avoid double booking and overextending yourself.
• Members of the sandwich generation often feel they don’t spend enough time with their children because they’re busy caring for their parents and vice versa. Combat this issue with intergenerational activities, such as decorating the home, trimming the tree, planning the menu or wrapping presents.
• Caring for another human being for an extended period of time can take its toll on even the most caring and nurturing of people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It may mean alternating days with a relative or bringing in a professional caregiver.
• Watch out for these red flags that could mean your aging relative is in need of additional assistance: mismatched, wrinkled or soiled clothing, weight loss or gain, trouble remembering names or an unclean home.
• Discuss the possibility of hiring a professional caregiver to relieve some strain on you, especially around the holidays. In the long-term, a caregiver can help your loved one age safely and comfortably in his or her own home, by providing a wide range of non-medical home care services, including help with bathing, hairstyling and dressing, incontinence care, medication reminders, chores and light exercise assistance.
Look for a company that offers a wide range of services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. For example, ComForcare Senior Services and At Your Side Home Care develop a customized care plan based on an in-home evaluation by a nurse and provides ongoing training and education to caregivers. More information can be found at http://www.ComForcare.com or http://www.AtYourSideHomeCare.com.
• Even you need some care sometimes! Set aside “me” time every day to do something just for you and you’ll be able to return to your caregiving duties refreshed and ready to help.
This holiday season, take the time to address the challenges facing you and your aging loved one.