Many Zoomers are not only grandparents but may also be responsible for caring for aging parents. It’s part of being caught in a sandwich generation, where, with people living longer, we are looking after parents in their late 80s and 90s, but are also being called upon for occasional or even fulltime duties caring for grandchildren.
Claudine of Montreal is wedged in such a sandwich. Her 87-year-old mother lives a few miles north of the city and Claudine is driving several times a week to take her mother to medical appointments, making meals for her to heat easily on her own and doing her laundry. Her three grandchildren live in the city and are cared for by the other grandmother, while the children’s parents are at work. Claudine’s life was busy enough, but when the other grandmother had a stroke, Claudine was called in to take over daily babysitting for the grandchildren, all under the age of five. “I always felt guilty that I couldn’t help out as much as their other grandmother,” she says, “but now, I am really stressed, because I simply can’t look after the kids fulltime and still be on call for my mother.”
Claudine did look after the children until the parents found someone else to come in, but was adamant that she could not do it fulltime and still maintain a low stress level, a factor critical to her own health.
For caregivers, it’s important to make good health a priority, and that may often mean saying “no.”
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