When an aging family member needs help, most of us want to be there for him or her. We jump up immediately to say, “I’ll be right over.”
While this impulse is admirable, I see time and time again how family members taking on multiple care responsibilities begin to experience extreme stress and family tensions, ultimately losing their sense of self. Many family caregivers come to Home Helpers when they realize they have become a caregiver instead of a daughter or son.
Family Member Identity Crisis
Half of American adults today are part of the Sandwich Generation, looking after their children and their aging relatives simultaneously. These people providing endless amounts of care find themselves physically, socially, financially, and emotionally spent at the end of the day.
As she devotes more and more time to others, the family caregiver finds the time left for personal needs begins to shrink. A caregiver’s support role can start small and slowly grow, until suddenly she realizes she’s no longer doing many things she used to enjoy, like having dinner with friends, taking the kids to the park, or going for a run.
Does this sound familiar?
Family Caregiver Quiz
Taking a moment to reflect on how you spend your time reveals things you might not have noticed before.
Fill out the short questionnaire below, and think about how you spend time when you’re with an aging family member, your children and your spouse. Is this the life you set out to live? Are your care responsibilities at a level that allows you to still enjoy time with your loved ones as a family member?
Self Evaluation: Are you a family member, or a family caregiver?
1. What do you spend more time doing with your aging loved one?
Grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and taking out the garbage
Visiting, talking, and sharing stories
Helping them with medication, taking them to doctor visits, or helping them dress
Watching TV, catching up, or playing games
2. What do you spend more time doing with your children?
3. What do you spend more time doing with your spouse?
Cooking, cleaning, and running errands
Talking about your day, laughing, being intimate
Worrying about your extended family needs
4. Do you ever feel like you just can’t get everything done?
5. Do you immediately agree to help when a family member asks?
6. Do you wonder where your day went when you finally go to bed at night?
Review Your Results
When you look at your answers, are you happy with what you see?
What are some strategies for improving the negative aspects of your situation?