The holidays can be a hectic time of year, but when you’re trying to make all those last-minute preparations while also looking after an aging in place elderly loved one, you can find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed. Being a member of the “sandwich generation” during the holidays can ratchet up your stress level to the point that it places your health and wellbeing at risk. Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to survive the holiday season as a sandwich generation caregiver, starting with these.
Are You in the Sandwich Generation?
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all American adults are currently part of the sandwich generation. That term refers to someone who’s in their 40s or 50s that’s caring for, or providing financial assistance to, their own children plus one or more aging parents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also relates that three-quarters of the over 40 million unpaid elder caregivers in the U.S. are employed at least part-time outside the home. Lump together all those responsibilities during an already busy holiday season, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout if you’re not careful.
Balancing Caregiving with the Holidays
As a sandwich generation member during the holidays, caregiver burnout can sneak up on you when you least expect it. On the positive side, balancing all those responsibilities is possible when taking these steps:
Set Realistic Goals
There’s only one of you, so don’t feel guilty saying “no” when there’s too much on your plate. For example, your child’s school may need to find someone else to bake cookies for that upcoming holiday program. As an elder caregiver, prioritize essential duties that can’t wait and focus on small victories, like helping your aging loved one wrap gifts or get dressed before taking them to a holiday concert.
Sometimes this is nearly impossible, but the more tasks you can get done well before company arrives, the less stressful the holidays will be. Try using these planning strategies:
- Prepare plenty of food ahead of time and freeze it.
- Stock up on extra groceries in anticipation of impromptu visits from family and friends.
- Purchase gift cards for last minute presents.
- Politely ask family members to host a get-together at their house instead of yours or suggest potlucks so that you don’t have to do all the cooking.
Cut Back on Traditions
It’s easy to feel pressured into keeping up with the “Joneses” when it comes to decorations and other preparations. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap when time is of the essence. To lighten your load, focus on some of the more important traditions and then ask your elderly loved one and kids to help-out. Activities that participants young and old can assist with include:
- Wrapping gifts
- Polishing up the nice silverware
- Decorating the tree
- Baking cookies and pastries
Take Care of Yourself
Keep your mind and body refreshed by exercising regularly, eating right and sleeping 7 to 8 hours a day. Taking better care of yourself will help you fight off winter illnesses, reduce stress and ensure that the holidays are more enjoyable for all parties involved!
Ask for Help
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask others for assistance when you are feeling run down. This could be anything from helping you put up holiday lights, to transporting your senior to their doctor’s appointments. Here are some potential sources of much-needed holiday relief:
- Family members who are in town visiting
- Trusted neighbors
- Senior transportation and meal services
- Local gift-wrapping services
- Community volunteers who work with the elderly
- A professional respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency
We Help Sandwich Generation Caregivers Keep It Together
The holidays can be a very stressful time when you’re part of the sandwich generation. When you need some relief, call First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our carefully screened respite caregivers can serve as an extended family in your senior’s home so they can remain safely and comfortably right where they want to be. While there, our highly trained professionals can perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, food shopping, medication reminders, transportation and even skilled nursing care.
And, all our family trusted in-home services can be personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about First In Care now, or to schedule a FREE, in-home assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, today, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.