The aging process can change a myriad of relationships. The “sandwich generation” is a term that’s frequently used to describe those who have children at home and who simultaneously have to take care of parents or grandparents. This situation can lead to stress, and it can also be quite costly.
Caregivers can see problems in their relationships with:
- Elderly parents
It’s difficult to go out with friends when you’re responsible to take care of elderly relatives who need round-the-clock attention. People who you might have known for decades might get put to the back burner, and these relationships with long-term friends may not recover easily. Relationships with friends are not the only ones to suffer, however.
If you’ve got children at home, you’ll provide a good example by providing care for your aging parents who might need assistance. It’s important to remember that elder care should not take priority over your relationship with your own children, however. It’s important to take the time to build positive relationships with those who are dependent upon you for guidance. Sometimes, a single parent or a couple might decide to move in with grandparents to help. Still, make sure to take time to read or watch a movie with your kids.
It’s also important to watch out for signs of trouble. Many people who are afflicted with dementia are also afflicted with mood swings. These mood swings can turn violent at times, and verbal or physical abuse can ensue. If this happens and your parents or grandparents turn violent, it’s important to keep your children’s well-being in mind. Additionally, it may be a good idea to find someone to watch your parents if your child has a recital or sports event so that they know that they hold a place of importance in your life. There may, of course, be emergencies that would preclude time with your child, but these should be legitimate emergencies.
Marriages can also feel strain as a result of having to deal with elder care. Some spouses will be quite accommodating and welcome the opportunity to help with a husband or wife’s aging parent. Others will react less positively at this possibility. Regardless, if you find yourself having to take care of aging parents while married, it’s important to spend time with your spouse. Failing to do so can lead to many negative outcomes.
There have been marriages that have broken apart because of having to take care of parents. Paying attention to your spouse’s needs is key to successfully navigating this stage of life. This could mean setting aside time for periodic dates or a long weekend away from the stress of everyday life.
It’s also important to understand that care for aging relatives can impact your relationship with your employer. If you frequently have to take a trip home to deal with small problems, your employer will notice. Both men and women could find themselves in this position, and it could hamper their ability to increase their income in the future. The Family Medical Leave Act could provide some relief, but it’s only available for a relatively short time frame.
Regardless of the level of your involvement with elder care, it’s a good idea to look into the options that are available to help you juggle your many responsibilities. Many states have options that can provide some social services that include in-home care. If your parent has some financial means, a nursing home or assisted living facility are not the only options. There are also adult daycare facilities that can help. Your aging parent would likely not your relationships to suffer so it’s a good idea to keep your options open so you can better balance your responsibilities.