I became “sandwiched” between my youngest child’s diaper bag with snacks on one shoulder while heaving another bag carrying my aging parents’ file folders of bank statements on the other.
I became weighed down physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually during a season of life that none of my peers could relate to. I was in my mid-30s. And as an only child, the burden of caregiving was on my shoulders. Although I can look back with no regret, there were quite a few issues that were a huge learning curve. Nothing could have prepared me for what I did well and what I didn’t.
Here are some suggestions for the caregiver: S.A.N.D.W.I.C.H.
S = Self care is crucial.
How can you take care of yourself on a daily
basis? What will recharge your emotional and physical bodies? How
will you learn to say “yes” and “no” when needed?
Caregivers struggle with boundaries, and it is crucial to examine your beliefs that maintain that you “can’t” or “can” do something.
A = Address ASAP those “sticky” issues with your loved ones.
Are their legal documents in order? Examples include Powers of
Attorney, Living Wills, Estate Wills, just to name a few.
Do they desire to stay in their home? Are there financial resources to
accomplish this? Obtain names of the parents’ professional network and
secure Powers of Attorney to discuss parents’ financial, legal, and
medical matters with the respective professionals.
If the aging loved one is not of sound mind, guardianship may be needed.
Consult a lawyer in your state as needed to answer these questions.
N = Name individuals who can help.
Who can be a support system for you and your family as well as
those to help your aging parents?
Examples include, but are not limited to, neighbors, close friends, local
agencies to provide services, and professionals (accountants, lawyers,
doctors, and cleaning services, etc.).
D = Driving.
How will you assess the driving abilities of their parent(s)?
Are those who are aging able to drive? This can easily be a source of
conflict among family members, but a necessary topic to discuss.
If needed, let the medical professionals speak to this issue.
W = Wishes.
How will you begin the conversation with their loved ones
regarding their wishes? Wishes can be an all inclusive topic regarding
care (short term and long term).
What are the unwritten and unspoken beliefs that “drive” your family
regarding care? These are expectations that need to be addressed.
In doing so, you may or may not be realistic given each family’s
unique responsibilities. There is no right or wrong formula for these
I = Invite God into every detail.
What is your view of God? Do you feel He is distant? Near?
How can you best sense and feel God’s presence?
You may want to journal their spiritual journal. Also, it will
be a blessing to reflect back on their written record in future years.
C = Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. With your spouse.
How can you daily communicate with your spouse to stay emotionally
How can your spouse listen with empathy so as to understand?
How can you, as a couple, navigate this season of caregiving while still
honoring their marital covenant as priority?
Communication coaching may be needed.
H = Humor.
How can you incorporate humor or other healthy coping skills
to build resiliency? Humor is good for the mind and body in relieving
stress. Make a list of your “Top 10” to incorporate on a
regular basis to promote positive self care. In addition, these will be
identifiable life skills for the future.
Many unexpected details of caregiving sandwich the caregiver on every level. You can be as proactive as possible with the issues that are within your control.
This is Hope Unveiled!