Baby Boomer Women Caring for the Greatest Generation

by Anne Holmes on August 27, 2009

My husband, Ross and I spent a good bit of yesterday, our day off, tending to eldercare issues. This is nothing new to baby boomers, especially baby boomer women. Caring for aging parents is one of the reasons we are referred to as the sandwich generation. I refer to us as the club sandwich generation because many of us are also involved with caring for our grandchildren. Some boomers have been known to ponder: do I go to work, care for my grandson who can’t attend day care because he’s sick, or take Dad to his doctor appointment? We can only spread ourselves so thin.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my father and father-in-law, and am happy to be in town and able to help. I thank God for that, but both are facing health issues that they can no longer allow them the independence to which they were once accustomed. No one could be more disappointed about their loss of independence than the two of them. While it might be hard on us, it’s even harder for those living with the health set-backs. They don’t want to be dependent on their children.

A study published in November, 2006, Squeezed Between Children and Older Parents: A Survey of Sandwich Generation Women, stated that
more than 60% of women concerned about an aging relative’s health said they have difficulty managing stress compared to 48% of women for whom an aging relative’s health care was not a concern.

I address this because I know from reading my forums that this is an issue many of us are managing.

Here are 15 tips to remind you that we must take time to care for ourselves or we will no longer be of help to our loved ones due to burn out.

Reduce stressful situations by saying no.

Perhaps you can run that errand for Dad but you can’t do it until the weekend while you are running your own errands.

Maybe you can’t baby sit your grandchild at her home, but you can watch her if they bring her to your home for the evening.

Tell your grown child that she may have to hire a babysitter. As much as you love your grandchildren, you can’t be expected to baby sit every time they need you.

Say no to things that are no longer rewarding. Perhaps it’s time to step down from being the neighborhood association secretary or the Sunday school teacher. There is a season for everything.

Ask for help without feeling guilty.

Perhaps there’s a sibling who isn’t pulling their weight. Have an honest conversation with them and let them know they are needed.

Try calling a local eldercare agency to see if they have services to help with small jobs concerning Mom and Dad.

Hire a maid to clean your house when you just can’t stand the mess any longer.

Surround yourself with a network of supportive people who will listen and allow you to feel heard.

Plan a Girl’s Night Out because you can be certain your friends will be able to relate and empathize. Recognize you are not alone.

Enlist help around the house. There’s no reason teenagers can’t do their own laundry or clean their bathrooms. Make food lists and have your child who just got their license do the food shopping.

Spend alone time with your loved ones. Plan a date with your hubby, a movie with your daughter, or lunch with Mom. Do something fun that has nothing to do with the nitty gritty of care giving.

Escape by reading a good book or watch a movie.

Get Outside. There’s something about the great outdoors that’s healing. Go alone or take your hubby, dog, kids, or grandkids. Walk, run, garden, or simply sit in a chair while taking in the sights and sounds. Feel the breeze and revel in it.

Visit your doctors. Keep up with your own doctor appointments. Don’t put off your annual physicals or visits to the dentist, gynecologist, etc. Preventive medical care is essential.

Eat well and exercise often. Be careful not to skip meals. Make sure you begin the day with a healthy breakfast, followed by a healthy lunch and dinner. Walking with a friend is therapeutic, especially if they too are a boomer woman.

Take a deep soaking bubble bath before jumping in bed. It relaxes your muscles and prepares your body for rest.

Spend time in prayer each day. If you don’t have time to do this while you’re at home, at least listen to a spiritual radio station or CD that allows the spirit to enter in and give you the much needed peace you deserve.

Count your blessings. Take time to make a list of what you have to be thankful for each day. It’s worth it. It helps change your focus from the negative to the positive.

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