Caring for Yourself and Aging Parents at Holiday Time

Amidst all the celebrating during these holidays, if you’re a Sandwiched Boomer, torn between caring for growing children and aging parents, you may be bogged down by your responsibilities and having a hard time getting into the spirit of the season. I know I did when I was taking care of my parents a decade ago. They moved in with me after my mother developed cognitive impairment due to a stroke, and they lived with us until their deaths years later. When I was just too exhausted, my husband insisted we get help and that made a huge difference in all of our lives.

Image: Ambro /

While you’re busy caring for others, remember to take good care of yourself too. Make time for fun and take advantage of free time you set aside for yourself. You can nurture yourself even when you’re focused on nourishing others. Remember what Ben Franklin said about how to keep yourself young: We do not stop playing because we grow old, We grow old because we stop playing!

If you’re a Sandwiched Boomer, we’ve got some resources to help you take better care of yourself, manage daily hassles and reduce long-term stress. Use them to create some energy so you can enjoy the holidays this year.

AARP recently hosted an event focused on identifying what can be done to support caregivers, bringing together 10 authors – including Gail Sheehy and Walter Mosley – who have hands on experience themselves caring for loved ones. You can view the archived webcast of the event on the AARP website.

If you’re caring for a loved one at home, find out about respite care options and caregiver resources that will give you the break you need. You may want to consult the Private Duty Homecare Association, which is devoted to overcoming the challenges of aging in place. And you can a look at their past webinars on various aspects of at-home care, which may help your loved one maintain a sense of independence and feelings of security. Home Instead Senior Care can also help overcome obstacles in assisting your loved one’s aging in place, including gift ideas for the holidays.

When you feel you are no longer able to care for a loved one by yourself, you may begin looking for other options. Assisted Living Today has compiled a series of articles to help determine the best type of care for your loved one. Especially helpful is the information in their Assisted Living Care Guide. For those of you who have a parent with Alzheimer’s or other dementia their Memory Care Guide provides facts about different types of facilities caring for those with Alzheimer’s Disease as well as questions and answers to help you make decisions about caring for your loved one.

November was Alzheimer’s Awareness month, bringing attention to the estimated 5 million who suffer from this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association provides information and support to those with Alzheimer’s as well as for their caregivers.

If you want to read more about eldership, AgeSong features Dr. Nader Shabahangi who has been writing about the aging process and the need for community to ensure a positive outlook – for caregivers as well as their loved ones. You may find his white papers interesting and informative, especially if you’re caring for a loved one.

Treat yourself to an important holiday gift this year – your decision to take good care of yourself even with the pull of your aging parents and growing children. You deserve it.

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