Caring for a Loved One? Here’s Where to Turn for the Help You Need
(ARA) – Some call those born between 1946 and 1964 baby boomers, but now more than ever this generation is referred to as the Sandwich Generation. No matter what you call them, a growing number of people in this generation are facing the same challenge — simultaneously caring for and supporting their aging parents, children still living at home and in some cases their grandchildren as well.
All the responsibility puts significant stress on people who may have expected this to be a time of their lives when they get to put all their worries aside and just enjoy life. Instead, they’re finding themselves juggling their parents’ doctor’s visits and school activities with their own kids and grandkids, not to mention issues surrounding their own health and careers.
Dr. Paul Takahashi, an internist and geriatrician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says it’s an issue more and more people are dealing with every day. There are now between 15 to 20 million people in the Sandwich Generation. “In my practice, I not only treat baby boomers, but their parents as well and the thing I’ve seen them struggle with most is role reversal,” he says. “Our parents are supposed to take care of us, and it can be stressful when it’s the other way around.”
“For many people it’s just too much,” says Dr. Edward Creagan, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic. He often finds himself advising his patients not only on issues surrounding the cancer they’re fighting, but on how to deal with the family-related stress that’s pulling them down. “I tell my patients, you have ‘x’ amount of energy in a bucket and it’s being expended dealing with your parents, kids and grandkids. If you want to get better, you have to reserve some of that energy for yourself,” says Dr. Creagan.
Dr. Takahashi and Dr. Creagan offer members of the Sandwich Generation some helpful advice:
* Learn how to say no;
* Take time for yourself;
* Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night;
* Take advantage of the resources available to you and delegate responsibilities whenever possible.
When it comes to managing health issues and finding health information, there are many resources available online. Whether they need to know if it’s safe to take certain over-the-counter medications, what a new diagnosis means, what to do about a new ailment mom is complaining about, if their son’s fever warrants a doctor’s visit or the answer to pretty much any other general medical question, they can find it on www.MayoClinic.com.
In addition to a broad and deep collection of resources on medical conditions and lifestyle, there are interactive tools that can be used to self-assess one’s health and a feature called “Ask a Specialist” where the answers to questions asked by users are posted. Those who don’t find the answers they’re looking for can e-mail their question to a Mayo Clinic specialist.
The site also has blogs and podcasts which Dr. Creagan contributes to regularly. In a recent posting on the stress blog titled, “Dealing with the ‘perfect storm,” Dr. Creagan shares what he calls the wisdom a wise woman in this predicament shared him: the importance of friends with whom she can share some of these challenges, the importance of a massage every several weeks to reduce the tension, and the importance of a spiritual dimension providing consolation and strength in time of chaos and adversity.
One blogger posted this response, “I’m not hesitant to let the kids in on what’s happening and to get them involved constructively, helping and learning about life.”
A woman adds, “Having depression and being the sole caretaker for my 85 year old Mom makes me a firm believer that you must take care of yourself to survive. Coping skills I have learned through therapy: 1) getting enough sleep. 2) Asking for help. 3) Working no more than 40 hours/week. 4) The unconditional love of pets. 5) Satisfaction knowing I am doing the best I can to care for my Mom, and treasuring the time we have together.
“I tell my patients MayoClinic.com is a complete resource for survival, so they should turn to it often,” says Dr. Creagan.
All of the material on www.MayoClinic.com is written by health writers and reviewed by physicians, scientists and researchers who are experts in their respective fields to ensure medical accuracy and reliability.
Courtesy of ARAcontent