You can’t always be there. But we can.
Taking on the role of being a family caregiver for your aging parent is one of the most impactful decisions that you can make in your life. This is a wonderful way for you to give back to your senior and to show them how much you love them and want to ensure that they get the home care and support that they deserve as they age in place.
No matter how beneficial this relationship is, however, it is important to keep in mind that when you agreed to step into this role and take on these responsibilities you were not just making a decision that would impact your life. you also make a decision that would impact the lives of your children.
Being a member of the sandwich generation is challenging, and it is critical that you do everything that you can to reduce your stress, ease your anxiety, and keep your family routine and relationship as intact as possible. This not only protects your health and well-being while you are caring for your parent, but it also ensures that you have a life to return to when your care journey comes to an end.
One of the most important things that you can do to help ease this transition and reduce your stress is to talk to your children about your new caregiver role. Children are far more perceptive and able to understand issues and situations than most people give them credit for. By taking the time to be upfront and honest with them, you can give them more confidence, ease their fears, and possibly even gain additional help at home or with your parent.
Use these tips to talk to your children about a new caregiver role:
• Explain what it means to be a caregiver. Do not assume that your child even understands what it means to be a “caregiver”. They might not have ever heard the word before and might not have the processing skills to break the term down and discern what it means. Explain to them what it means to be a caregiver and why your aging parent needs you to do this for them. This will help your child to better understand what it is that you are doing, even before they know the specific tasks that you complete.
• Reassure them that they are still important. Your child might feel that because you are taking time away from the home or things that you used to do that they are no longer as important to you. Reassure them that they are still just as important and that you love them just as much. Plan activities with them or come up with special ways that you can keep your relationship close, such as making sure that you are always there to read them a bedtime story or that you call them when they get home from school so that you can talk about their day.
• Prepare them for the future. If your aging loved one is suffering from a progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s disease and you know that their condition will worsen as time goes by, talk to your children about this. Let them know how it might change and how this will impact your caregiver role. Knowing this can help your children to feel less out of control and even give them the opportunity to offer help. If they do, be willing to take it. Feeling like they are a valuable asset to the home and that they are helping you, even with minor tasks, helps them to feel more confident, involved, and impactful.