There are many of us in the county with school-age children who find ourselves also in the role of caregiver for a parent or another adult relative.
That is exactly the situation Fairfax County resident Leslie found herself in after her father passed away and her mother, Beverly, moved into Leslie’s home.
With a 14-year-old daughter and a recently retired husband, Leslie suddenly became a member of the “sandwich generation” — people who are simultaneously caring for the needs of an aged parent and their own child.
Being in the sandwich generation has many challenges. Here are ways you can take care of your loved ones – as well as yourself.
Leslie enrolled her mom in the county’s Herndon Harbor Adult Day Health Care Center and immediately saw positive changes in Beverly’s health and demeanor.
“She is doing things I never knew she could do — like dancing! She enjoys the exercise and the field trips,” Leslie said. “She feels like a queen here. The staff and volunteers make her feel special each day.”
Beverly adapted easily to her new daily life at the center. And Leslie took note.
“I knew she was assimilated when she asked for a ‘red walker with wheels.’ My mom doesn’t even need a walker, but some of her friends at the center have them — so she wanted one, too! She loves sitting with people, talking, and having lunch. It’s a special place,” Leslie commented.
- Keep a routine: When juggling kids plus a parent with needs, it’s important to maintain a routine and keep everyone on track – including you, the caregiver.
- Find a support group: The caregiver experience is taxing. Getting involved in a support group will help. Fairfax County offers a variety of caregiver support resources and groups, as do each of the Health Department’s Adult Day Health Care Centers.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Avoid the health risks of dehydration with eight glasses of water each day for each member of your family. And be sure to include regular exercise. Adult Day Health Care participants have adapted exercise as part of their program daily. For the rest of the family, make sure you’re getting outside for a walk when you can, or enjoying another exercise.
- Don’t stop your life: Becoming a member of the sandwich generation brings new circumstances that will inevitably impact your life as you knew it. Adapt, but don’t stop living. Make sure you still make time for you.
- Get help: From carpools for your kids to home health workers who can stay with your parent while you enjoy a movie with your spouse, resources are out there to help you. Use them!