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Many middle-aged adults are finding themselves caring and supporting two generations- their children and their aging parents. While caregiving can be very rewarding, it often can bring additional emotional, physical and financial stresses for caregivers as they try to balance a career, parenting and elder care.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 520,000 Kentucky informal caregivers provide 570 million hours of care each year. The estimated value of this care is worth more than $5.4 billion.
This support is most often geared toward seniors by middle-aged daughters, who are balancing a full-time job on top of their other daily responsibilities.
Here are a few tips for handling the physical and emotional stresses related to caregiving:
Recognize how you handle stress and what is stressing you. Put your stressors into perspective and make time for what is really important.
Remember you also need to take care of yourself.
Take physical and emotional breaks from caregiving, such as going for a walk or reading a book.
Ask for help, including professional support.
Remember that the example you set by handling your stress is a model for the rest of your family.
Reducing financial stress requires honesty between all parties involved in the caregiving process (your parents, your children and yourself). You should analyze your financial situation and be honest with your parents about how much financial support you can provide to them now and in the future. Your parents need to be honest with you about their monthly expenses.
Reviewing your parents’ expenses may help you find ways where they can cut costs, such as buying generic products, seeking government assistance or moving in together to share monthly expenses.
You should be honest with your children about the effects of caring for your aging parents and make sure they know their needs come first. You may also want to seek support and advice from geriatric care managers, elder care lawyers and financial planners.
More information on caregiving is also available at the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service. Additional online resources for caregivers include AARP’s website http://www.aarp.org/ and eXtension’s Family Caregiving website http://www.extension.org/family_caregiving.
Source: Amy Hosier, UK extension specialist in family life
Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.