Caring for Children and Senior Parents during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Many Americans now fall into the “sandwich generation,” which is categorized as adults who care for both children and aging parents. And while the term has been around for several years, folks within this group are facing unprecedented challenges in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. On the one hand, their parents are among the population most at risk for coronavirus contraction, complications and hospitalization. But on the other hand, their children are home from school and have physical, social and emotional needs during this difficult time.

Here are tips that are certain to help any sandwich generation caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be Responsible But Don’t Accept Responsibility

Caregivers always feel an incredible sense of responsibility for vulnerable family members. However, the pressure is greatly magnified with COVID-19. It’s important for people to realize that assuming responsibility for the well-being of another isn’t the same as being responsible for negative circumstances

“Mom” may require extra care to mitigate her risk of contracting COVID-19, but no caregiver can eliminate that risk altogether. Family aides should therefore work to assist aging parents however possible while accepting they can’t completely control the outcomes. At a certain point, an older loved one may fall ill to coronavirus despite family members’ best efforts. And aging parents may also turn their understandable frustration toward well-meaning caregivers; something that must not be internalized but recognized as a consequence of the challenging conditions. 

Similarly, members of the sandwich generation need to accept the realities of caring for children who are home from school. Parents must work to accommodate their home-based schooling and other needs, but they should also avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Most families are in uncharted waters, and it’s unlikely any parents are doing a perfect job of playing “teacher.” Once again, the solution is for caregivers to set reasonable goals without being too self-critical. 

Coordinate Activities that Will Keep Children Active While Also Engaging Elderly Parents

With everyone working and educating from home, one would think families enjoy a surplus of extra time. But that’s simply not the case! In fact, many people in the sandwich generation are busier than ever before. Perhaps parents and caregivers should therefore consider killing two birds with one stone.

Older relatives generally like to spend time with their grandchildren. And kids these days need help with their home-based education. Therefore, it may make sense to incorporate “Grandma” and “Grandpa” into the children’s lessons. Video calls are now commonplace, and a variety of free online services and smartphone apps provide the necessary technology free of charge. 

A class on world history may paint a general perspective of war, politics and international politics. But what if an older relative actually fought in Korea or Vietnam? Perhaps he can help teach a lesson and provide his first-hand perspective. That would certainly add value and realism to the conversation! 

Or maybe a grandmother can share what life was like for women in 1950s America during a discussion on sociology. Obviously, these are just two examples. But now is a good time to connect two vastly-different generations together in a way that is beneficial to both.  

Make Time for Yourself Every Day

All parents can feel overwhelmed. But people in the sandwich generation are especially prone to burnout. The bottom line is everyone needs a break, and caregivers should never feel guilty about setting aside personal time. After all, it’s impossible for someone to care for others if she doesn’t first care for herself. 

While COVID-19 has limited recreational options, there are still many activities that can be done safely and in compliance with social-distancing guidelines. Here are a few ideas for overly-stressed parents and caregivers:

  • Buy an audio book and listen to it while relaxing in a quiet place
  • Start a new home improvement project
  • Take up gardening
  • Find a secluded spot in a park for yoga and meditation 
  • Splurge on that popular workout machine everyone is talking about

Utilize Ride-Sharing and Delivery Services Like Uber, Amazon, Grubhub and Postmates

Sandwich generation caregivers should feel no shame in trying to make their lives easier while managing the challenges of COVID-19. Food and shopping delivery services have been viewed as luxuries for some Americans, but they now seem more practical. Also, many companies have lowered or waived their delivery fees in light of COVID-19!

Here are some simple ways home-delivery and ride-sharing services aid sandwich generation caregivers:

  • Order dinner through Grubhub 
  • Use Postmates to deliver groceries to aging parents
  • Buy schooling supplies on Amazon
  • Secure transportation for children through ride-sharing apps like Uber

Other Considerations

In the end, sandwich generation caregivers deserve a collective “thank you” from the larger society. While they’re caring for their own parents and children, they’re also working to ensure the safety and well-being of America’s most vulnerable populations. In fact, they’re particularly contributing to the collective good during COVID-19 by helping seniors to remain at home and out of the hospital. Fortunately, there are ways sandwich generation caregivers can make their lives a bit easier during these challenging times!

As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained, compassionate caregivers can serve as an extended family in your senior’s home so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. Our agency’s goal is maintaining your senior’s quality of life so they can age gracefully with dignity and independence.

Our in-home services include companionship care, personal care, live-in care and 24-hour care to name a few. To learn more now about Adultcare Assistance Homecare, or to schedule a FREE in-home consultation with a case manager today for a senior in Sun City, Tucson & Phoenix, Arizona, please visit:!