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- Working with Aging Families: Therapeutic Solutions for Caregivers, Spouses, and Adult Children
For many, it seems that retirement is when the work really starts. But what impact does caring for generations of family have on those in their 60s and 70s? Mon 13 Feb Beverley works full-time. I do think, gosh, when will I be allowed to get old myself? Beverley is part of the sandwich generation — people who care for ageing parents while supporting their children. When the term was coined, it generally referred to people in their 30s and 40s.
Now the sandwich generation has grown older and deeper. People in their 50s, 60s and 70s are caring for their elderly parents, needy adult children and lively grandchildren. The sandwich has become a triple. Experts say the layers of responsibility will soon grow, with pensioner children caring for two generations either side of them, from grandparent to grandchild.
At the same time, the government will expect these adult children to work ever longer and save more for their own old age. The statistics are striking. One in five people aged in the UK are carers to an older family member. Dr Debora Price, director of the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing at the University of Manchester, believes the number of people aged over 65 providing care to their parents and grandchildren is likely to increase. Two weeks ago, David Mowat, the parliamentary undersecretary of state for care and support, made headlines with his comments that families should give as much support to elderly parents as they do to children.
The social care crisis was now so great, he told MPs on the House of Commons communities and local government select committee, that families could no longer rely on the state. Already, forecasters are warning that the social care burden on the budget will double over the next 50 years, from 1. Because it is a responsibility in terms of our life cycle which is similar.
And the fact that carers are predominantly — by a ratio of two to one — adult daughters and daughters-in-law makes this a major case of gender discrimination. The evidence is also of widespread carer fatigue and breakdown — carers are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems — as well as discrimination in the jobs market. Walker believes the point Mowat fails to understand is that families need support to maximise their caring capacity.
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Risk factors for caregiver stress include:. As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don't realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:. Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you're more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That's why it's so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to care for anyone else.
Set personal health goals. For example, set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
Caregiver Support and Resources
Many caregivers have issues with sleeping. Not getting quality sleep over a long period of time can cause health issues.
If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep, talk to your doctor. It may be hard to imagine leaving your loved one in someone else's care, but taking a break can be one of the best things you do for yourself — as well as the person you're caring for.
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Most communities have some type of respite care available, such as:. Nearly 60 percent of caregivers work outside of the home. If you work outside the home and you're a caregiver, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. If you do, think about taking leave from your job for a period of time.
Working with Aging Families: Therapeutic Solutions for Caregivers, Spouses, and Adult Children
Employees covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for relatives. Ask your human resources office about options for unpaid leave. If you're like many caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to feeling isolated, frustrated and even depressed.
Rather than struggling on your own, take advantage of local resources for caregivers.
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Sign up now. Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. By Mayo Clinic Staff.