Many adults, particularly women, are stretched thin between caring for young children, as well as elderly parents. They are among the estimated one-third of 45- to 56-year old women in the nation in this situation — nicknamed the Sandwich Generation — according to the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women.
This full-time commitment to care giving can be very rewarding, but can also take a toll. Fortunately, if you are in this situation, there are easy ways to reward yourself and renew your emotional and physical health.
Here are some helpful tips from the National Family Caregivers Association:
1. Reward yourself with regular breaks, and take additional breaks when needed. Care giving is a job and you have earned time to care for yourself.
2. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
3. Watch out for signs of depression, and seek out professional mental health services when you need them.
4. Educate yourself about your loved one's condition and how to communicate effectively with doctors. There’s a difference between “caring” and “doing.”
5. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.
6. Trust your instincts. They will lead you in the right direction.
7. Caregivers often do a lot of lifting, pushing and pulling. Be good to your back, and seek out professional advice and treatments if you have questions or concerns.
8.Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
9. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.
10. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.
This article was originally printed in Well magazine, the precursor to this site, in January 2008. Written and edited by the editorial staff of Well magazine and Well Community.