You know the saying: jack of all trades…master of none?

 

It’s usually one of those funny ironies that everyone recognizes when someone else is trying to do too much and spread themselves too thin….but somehow, we never recognize when we’re doing it ourselves! But…you just can’t be everything to everyone.

 

When it comes to what we expect from ourselves, we always think we can do just a little bit more, say “yes” to just one more commitment, or fit yet another meeting into the day. 

 

When it comes to caring for elderly parents, the same pattern shows up again—figuring we can add yet another commitment.  In many cases, it isn’t necessarily an active decision to take on another commitment; it is borne out of necessity. Your parent experiences a health crisis and you step up to help out, but when they don’t rebound as quickly as expected, your short-term assistance suddenly doesn’t have an end date.

 

someone writing a to do list

 

You now have a new role added to your growing list.  You might have already been an active wife and mother, maybe even a new grandmother. You’re the general manager of your household overseeing all the household tasks as well as cooking and grocery shopping. You’ve been a dedicated employee and you’re a manager with numerous people reporting to you.  You’re the organizer of your book club—the one remaining thing you try to do for yourself, to keep your sanity.

 

And now, you have the huge new role of being a family caregiver. While you’ve always been a daughter and you helped out here and there as needed, that’s very different than being a primary caregiver.

 

Being a primary family caregiver can be all-consuming.

 

Often, the things your parent needs help with are not things that can wait until the next time you happen to visit. Now, there are constant medical appointments in the middle of the workday, and unpredictable personal needs at all hours of the day and night.

 

The role of the primary family caregiver can start to encroach on all your other roles.  It can be difficult to be the active and involved grandmother you want to be if you can’t babysit when you had hoped to.  Your husband is patient and understanding, but when you haven’t had dinner together in a week, he can’t help but notice. 

 

At work, your boss tries to be understanding about the amount of time off you’ve been taking, but it’s not the boss you’re worried about. It’s everyone reporting to you who are noticing your absence as well.  Juggling these roles and the responsibilities that each entail can be quite stressful.

 

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone.  You can’t be everything to everyone.  You can’t possibly juggle so many roles and fulfill each of them to the extent that you would like with only 24 hours in a day. Something has to give.

 

Latin caregiver helping an elderly woman

 

At the end of the day, you need to either get assistance with one or more roles by outsourcing or acknowledge that something is going to slide and you’re willing to accept that. Such a decision is deeply personal and there is no single answer that matches every family.  

 

For some, it means they won’t get to be as involved with grandparenting.  For others, their marriage and friendships may end up on rocky ground when they can’t invest any time or energy into those relationships.  Still, others scale back at work, reducing to part-time hours or stepping down from management, despite the significant financial implications. Others recognize that accepting assistance with family caregiving can help to maintain all of the other roles.

 

Here at Warm Embrace, we don’t take care of the grandchildren, or strengthen your marriage, or alleviate your work responsibilities. What we can do is provide all the assistance your parents need so that you are able to maintain all of your other roles.

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Sandwiched Mothers


You’re busy working from home watching the clock, mentally calculating whether you have enough time to check in on your mother, pick up some groceries, and cook dinner for your teenager. . . or will you be ordering pizza yet again tonight?

 

If this scene feels at all familiar to you, then you’re likely one of the 2 million Canadians who fit into the infamous “sandwich generation”.  According to Statistics Canada, 28% of all caregivers in Canada are part of the sandwich generation. The sandwich generation generally applies to those in their late 30’s to early 60’s who are simultaneously caring for their ageing parents as well as their growing children. 

 

 

Advances in healthcare are allowing people to live longer lives, though not necessarily healthier lives.  The end of one’s life may include more intensive care, further demanding the time and energy of the sandwich generation who is caught between their parents and children.  The increased life expectancy has led to another possibility—the club sandwich generation.  The club sandwich refers to people who are assisting their ageing parents, while also being involved in their children’s, and grandchildren’s lives. 

 

Four living generations is no longer a rare scenario.

It is now possible for families to have two generations who are both in their senior years at the same time!  The club sandwich can also apply to someone who is in her 40’s who has teenagers at home, while also assisting her 68-year-old parents and her 92-year-old grandparents.  A woman in this situation is caring for two senior generations simultaneously, while also raising her own family.

 

Add to this the pressures of working from home, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, personal life, and personal health—no wonder there is concern about the sandwich generation suffering burn-out!  Often people feel that they should be able to manage all of the simultaneous caregiving because previous generations managed to do so.  In reality, previous generations did not experience the sandwich generation phenomenon to the same degree, and they certainly did not experience club sandwich generations or a pandemic

 

 

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by today’s sandwich generation - especially in such unique times, will help to alleviate guilt and replace the sense of “I should be able to do this” with “where can I find meaningful assistance?". Acknowledging that you cannot do it all alone and that you deserve assistance is the first step. There are services available to help so that you don't have to this all alone!

 

Caring for your own health and well-being is crucial! 

 

Managing to eat healthy meals, and getting exercise needs to be a personal priority, not just something to do if you have time left over—because there is never time left over. If you are feeling completely stressed and burned out, you are not in the best condition to care for loved ones. 

 

Instead, think about accepting homecare assistance so that you are able to lead a balanced lifestyle that cares for you too! Put support systems in place to assist you in caring for your parents and grandparents.  A loving companion aide might be just the solution to support your parents while caring for your health at the same time.

 

With support systems set in place, you can avoid burn out, and enjoy your free time for some personal self-care or a well-needed vacation. 

 

Contact us today for more information!

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