(ARA) - The catch phrase says it all. Adult children who are
caring for their parents while also raising their own family are known as "the
sandwich generation.” These caregivers find themselves pulled in many
directions -- caring for a parent, raising their children, keeping their
marriage healthy and often holding down a job as well.
On top of all this, adult caregivers are thrust into the
awkward and often unwanted position of feeling like they’re parenting their own
parents. "It can be unsettling to find yourself in this role,” says Richard
Bitner of Visiting Angels, a national network of franchised non-medical senior
homecare agencies. He points out that this reversal in the parenting role can
give rise to stress for both parents and caregivers.
A recent survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and
the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that an estimated 22.4
households -- nearly one in four -- are providing care to someone age 50 or
older or have provided care during the previous 12 months.
As these caregivers have discovered, it takes a lot of time,
energy and patience to care for an aging loved one, and often it can seem like
all of these attributes are in short supply. It’s not surprising, then, that
guilt coupled with resentment are prevalent emotions among caregivers.
"Caregivers’ lives have been turned upside down,” says
Bitner. "Despite the fact that they love their parents, caring for a parent is
a big responsibility that affects the whole family.” Plans for the immediate
future go out the window. Schedules that were already jam-packed and
complicated need to be reworked. Children may resent the new demands on their
parents’ time and attention.
With all these added stressors, experts emphasize the
importance of caretakers looking after their own physical and emotional health.
"You can’t take care of someone else without taking care of yourself first,”
agrees Bitner. This involves getting help from others, whether it be from siblings,
a support group or a health care service.
The staff at Visiting Angels understands this need. The
company provides non-medical caregivers who go into clients’ homes to offer
companionship, do light housekeeping, run errands, prepare meals or do shopping
-- all services that can provide a respite for families dealing with the care
of a loved one.
"You can be confident that your caregiver is qualified and
has excellent references,” says Bitner. The company hires only experienced
caregivers who pass a rigorous screening process. They also look for intangible
traits such as a caring personality. Many of the company’s caregivers are
former hospital staffers looking for the opportunity to do one-on-one personal
"We work with each family to develop an individualized
program to manage the daily needs of the client and then match those needs to
the best possible caregiver,” explains Bitner. Caregivers are then introduced
to the family, who has the final say in the selection process.
Once the caregiver has been placed in the home, Visiting
Angels continues its personalized contact through telephone check-ins and home
visits to make sure the match is a good one.
For more information contact your local office at 832-632-2273, or visit us online at www.visitingangelshouston.com