Are you part of the Sandwich Generation? Sue Haglind explains that that’s the term used to describe adults in their 40s or 50s who are caring for or supporting one or more parents, aged 65+, while at the same time raising their own children. It’s not easy to juggle the demands of these two age groups, particularly if you are also holding down a part- or full-time job, responsible for managing your household, and of course trying to sneak in that oh-so-valuable but also hard-to-justify “self-care.”
Sue Haglind, a private-duty personal caregiver who specializes in compassionate care for the elderly, has a few important tips for anyone who finds themselves stretched thin by the demands of Sandwich Generation life.
Make Sure They’re Eating Well | Sue Haglind
Unfortunately, seniors are at risk for malnutrition — just when they need to be optimizing their diet to maintain or regain, good health. Sometimes they are not able to grocery shop as they once did; other times, they are no longer interested in cooking after a lifetime of preparing meals for their family.
Sue Haglind suggests stocking their pantry with wholesome, easy to prepare and eat foods. Protein bars and high-quality nutrition drinks can come in very handy. So do frozen meals, but be sure to purchase only high-quality ones — or DIY them by cooking double batches of the food your family eats and freezing individual portions for Mom or Dad. Another lifesaver is precut fruits and vegetables, which make cooking or snacking a snap.
Help Them Stay Active and Engaged In Life | Sue Haglind
Once they are retired and may have reduced or stopped driving, seniors can become very isolated. Some of their friends may have passed away or moved to a more temperate climate. Or a period of rest and relaxation after retirement slowly turns into boredom and apathy. Help your loved one to get out and do the things she or he loves. You don’t always have to provide the transportation or activity, either, Sue Haglind explains. Look into community volunteers, or see if your aging parent could carpool with people heading to the same church service, volunteer event, social activity, etc. If they live with you, offer to host a weekly bridge club, crafting bee, or coffee klatsch so that company can come to your loved one.
“Senior-Proof” the Home | Sue Haglind
Just as you once baby-proofed your house, so you will now need to “senior-proof” your home — or theirs. That’s especially true if your loved one has dementia and can’t quite be trusted to turn off the stove burners or refrain from wandering out the door and into the neighborhood. Store medicines safely out of reach and administer them yourself; install latches on cupboard and interior doors. Installing smart home systems that you can access and control remotely is another good tactic, adds Sue Haglind.
You’ll want to make the house as safe as possible, too. Get rid of slippery area rugs. Install good lighting in dark hallways or other areas, and use plenty of night lights for those midnight bathroom trips. Install grab bars wherever they might be needed — the bathroom, stairs, hall, kitchen, and porch.
Wrapping Up | Sue Haglind
Sue Haglind emphasizes that these tips for helping seniors stay active and healthy are pretty basic and really only scratch the surface of a complicated subject. There are many more to come, however! Bookmark this site and check back often for more informative posts, or connect with us on social media and share your thoughts on taking care of aging relatives.