This healthcare crisis has been hard on everyone, particularly family caregivers. Sandwich Generation caregivers have dealt with the challenges of kids being sent home from school unexpectedly and indefinitely, remote learning, and navigating the psychological impact this disruption has had on their children. Sandwich Generation caregivers have also had to adjust to an entirely new way of helping their older loved ones. Adult day cares were closed. Visitation in nursing homes and senior living was suspended indefinitely. Many friends and family who may have been available to previously provide in person help were sheltering in place due to the shutdown.
Here are two questions Sandwich Generation caregivers should ask themselves as we move forward:
What can I release as we move into the New Normal?
Perhaps you visited your Mom at her assisted living every single day prior to the pandemic. Now that you haven’t been able to visit for a while, how is she doing? How are you doing? Maybe it’s time to consider if visiting several times per week rather than daily is better for everyone.
Your kids likely had most—if not all—of their extracurricular activities modified or suspended. Does your son still want to play soccer, baseball, and basketball? Does he really want to be on travel teams for three different sports? If it was nice to have the family together for dinner every night during the healthcare crisis, maybe it’s time to think about how much running around you and your family want to do in the future.
What do I want to continue?
The healthcare crisis has reminded us that there are lots of ways we can connect even when we are not physically together. If your Dad’s friends and neighbors called him more often during the healthcare crisis just to say hello, is this something you can ask them to keep doing? Don’t underestimate the power of a quick phone call when someone is feeling lonely, even after this crisis.
Maybe your sister who resides in another state was furloughed during the healthcare crisis. If she rediscovered her love of baking during her free time and has been sending Dad cookies, wouldn’t it be great if she could make that a more frequent gesture that Dad could look forward to?
As stressful and scary as this time has been, families and friends have connected creatively in new ways. Maybe your kids have scheduled their own Zoom sessions with cousins who live across the country. Even if that can’t continue every week, maybe setting quarterly dates to keep those relationships growing would enhance their lives going forward.
Crises are a good time to inventory what’s working and what’s not. Sandwich Generation caregivers who take this opportunity to assess and adjust will set themselves up for a less stressful caregiving experience as they navigate the New Normal.