KARMA Urban Dictionary:
The Buddhist belief that whatever you do comes back to you, e.g. if you do something good, something good will happen to you, and vice versa
Caring for an aging loved one is often fraught with uncertainty and guilt. We often blame ourselves for thinking, feeling or doing things a certain way – or not doing them at all. For those who fall in the
Sandwich Generation, the struggle between doing for our parents and doing for our children plagues almost every decision we make.
The Sandwich Generation
The Sandwich Generation is made up of those Baby Boomers sandwiched between the need to care for their dependent children and the responsibility of caring for their aging parents. This Sandwich Generation arises from the combined trends of delayed childbirth, the delayed financial independence of children, and th
e increasing life expectancy of the older generation.
Who is to decide which family member is the “priority”? Is your son’s Little League game any less important than taking your mom to the doctor for a routine office visit? Does researching the benefits of in-home care vs. assisted living take precedence over helping your daughter with college applications?
A Full Time Job
Elder care can become a full time job. Many adult children take on the role of caregiver because they feel it is their duty and hope to give back to their parent(s). However, at what expense? According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, evidence shows that most caregivers are ill-prepared for their role and provide elder care with little or no support.
Research also shows that the average caregiver is age 46, female, married and working outside the home. It is an unfortunate reality that with our growing elder population, men and women in their forties and fifties are forced to choose between the needs of their children and those of their aging parent(s).
Perhaps the solution lies in the philosophy behind karma. We should reframe our thinking from “doing something good” for our parents equals sacrificing our own needs and the needs of our children and substitute it with the idea that taking care of our self allows us to be the best possible caregiver. Sharing the elder care responsibilities with a geriatric care manager allows Sandwich Generation caregivers to give to their children, their career and themselves. By taking care of yourself you are, in turn, doing something good for your parent.
Consider the statistics, more than one-third of caregivers continue to provide intense care to others while suffering from poor health themselves. Studies have shown that an influential factor in a caregiver’s decision to place an impaired relative in a long-term care facility is the family caregiver’s own physical health. A geriatric care manager can assist in the high stress that often accompanies caregiving.
You Need a Geriatric Care Manager
Asking for and accepting assistance does not make one less of a caregiver. It simply opens the door to additional resources and allows for opportunities to manage other aspects of your own life. You cannot take care of your family member if you’re not taking care of yourself. In essence, do something good for yourself and you’re doing something good for your aging loved one… Karma.