So you grew up and had a family. You’re constantly running around chasing after your kids and you’re always tired but it’s rewarding so you don’t mind. But something else is niggling in the back of your mind – your ageing parents.

You always saw your parents as people who would always be around to look after you and give you guidance, but now they’re retired and getting on in life and you’re not quite sure how you should go about helping them.

While parents want to be cared about, they may not necessarily want to be cared for. The question is – how do you look after ageing parents while letting them maintain their independence and care for your own children at the same time?

 Well, there’s no one clear cut answer, but here are a few ideas that could help guide you in the right direction.

Let your children and your parents care for each other

Why not let your kids spend more time with their grandparents? If your parents live far away this could be difficult but you could fly or drive your kids to where your parents live during the school holidays and let them spend the summer together. Nothing makes people feel younger than being surrounded by youth. Your kids will also enjoy getting to spend time with relatives they don’t normally see and build strong relationships with them and be exposed to different activities. After all, love is the best way to learn.

If your parents live nearby you could plan a weekly time to drop the kids over at your parents’ house so they can do things together like baking or an outdoor activity. Everyone needs a break from their kids every now and again so you could plan to do something with your partner while your kids are visiting their grandparents.

Buy a personal alarm

Mum and/or dad is ageing and you’re worried about their personal safety. Falls are common in elderly people and as many as one in three have experienced one. What do you do when your parents need support but want to continue to live independently at home. There are many personal alarms on the market that are designed to let ageing people keep their independence.

Buying one for your elderly parents is a great idea especially when you’re pre-occupied with your children and can’t always check up on your parents. 

The safest type of alarm is a fully monitored one, where any alarm presses go through to a 24/7 response centre manned by trained professionals.  A personal alarm is a device worn around the neck or wrist that has a button on it that can be pressed in times of need. The alarm alerts the monitoring centre and they then call the client in distress to see what help is needed. If it’s not an emergency situation then the family or a friend  is called to help. In the event of an emergency an ambulance will be called to assist. A personal alarm can give you peace of mind when your elderly parents live alone.   

Check out if your parents are eligible for a Home Care Package

A home care package is one of the ways that older Australians can access affordable care and service to support them living at homeSearch for a local home care package provider.  From personal care, therapy and food prep to domestic assistance, home maintenance and assistive technology (such as personal alarms). Search for a local home care package provider.

Say ‘yes’ when people ask to help

Sometimes it’s fine to accept you have too much on your plate and need an extra hand. Next time someone offers to help – take them up on it. If your partner offers to take the kids to school in the morning, let them do it. No one is capable of doing everything and if you try and take on too much then it will only result in stress and anxiety. Your friends and family are there to help and often want to do more.

Especially as your kids get older, make them do more around the house to help you out. You may find that your parents are struggling to keep up with maintaining their house so you could think about hiring a cleaner to come around once a week just to give the place a tidy up. If hiring a cleaner is out of you and your parents’ budget, then encourage your kids to help out around the garden or dust down the house next time you take them to see their grandparents. You could throw in some pocket money as an incentive.   

With the ‘Sandwich Generation’ there’s certainly no easy way to care for both your kids and your parents but with these tips it could make it easier. Sometimes you can feel helpless and stuck in the middle but it’s important to remember that you’re never alone and there’s always someone to help if you really need it.

Story Karen Smith