We know there are numerous demands on family caregivers each day. From medication management and hands-on care to transportation and emotional support, the responsibilities involved are significant. While there is no question that caregiving is a gift of love from you to your family, your responsibilities can be further complicated when you are asked to provide multi-age care.
Are you a member of The Sandwich Generation? This is the generation of Americans between the ages of forty and fifty-five who still have at least one child at home and are now caring for an aging parent. This type of caregiving can be especially complicated as each age group requires a different type of attention and level of care.
If you are attempting to balance a multi-age caregiver schedule, we want you to know you are not alone. We work with caregivers in our practice each day who are facing similar challenges. Let us share several tips and ideas that can help you manage a schedule when caring for your loved ones.
1. Maintain a planned calendar at all times. When you are juggling a multi-age caregiver schedule, staying organized must be a priority. Invest in a planner that you can keep readily available and consistently update it. If you choose to use a digital option be sure it can sync with all of your devices. If you are using a paper planner, you may want to consider color-coding it by age group or appointment type. Make sure important phone numbers are easy to access as well. No matter what type of planner you choose, commit to keep it updated so you will not accidentally book over scheduled appointments.
2. Take control of meals. Preparation is key when it comes to balancing your caregiver duties. When your schedule is packed, preparing a well-balanced meal each day can be a struggle. While time constraints may not permit you to cook every single day, you may have a bit more flexibility on the weekends. While it may be hard to find time at first, try to take a few hours each weekend to prepare meals for the week. You can separate and label meals in different containers, keep them in the refrigerator and then you can heat them up later in the week. If you have time to cook but cannot leave the home to grocery shop, consider a meal delivery system. Subscription companies such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh can deliver fresh and perfectly measured ingredients to your door every day. You may also want to talk to your local grocery store and ask if it has a grocery delivery service.
3. Recruit help with your younger children. Most young children are extremely busy, which makes your schedule extremely busy as well. One way to balance your younger children’s needs when you are caring for an aging parent is to recruit help from friends and family. Create a group of parents who each have children enrolled in the same activities or go to the same school as your child. Together, you can develop a driving schedule rotation, after school care and extra help for those times when an emergency arises.
4. Combine as many responsibilities as you can. Look for overlapping events in your schedule and involve everyone when you can. For example, administer medicine at the same time. Eat meals at the same time. Complete hygiene routines at the same time. Start by arranging children’s schedules around seniors’ schedules. Don’t hesitate to set reminders on your phone when you are trying to remember and schedule new responsibilities.
5. Don’t neglect yourself. When you are a caregiver, it is likely that you provide for everyone’s needs but your own. It is critical, however, for you not to neglect yourself. Scheduling at least one hour of respite care for yourself each week is important. Without your health, both mental and physical, you will not be able to provide for the people who are relying on you. While it may seem unnecessary right now, do not wait to ask for help from a trusted person in your life to ensure you are able to take a brief rest each week.
We know caring for multiple age groups is not an easy task. We know there are times when even the most organized schedules fall apart due to schedule conflicts, crises and unexpected responsibilities. If you need help or have questions, we want you to reach out to us. Contact us to schedule an appointment with Attorney Alan Hougum.