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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer's Caregivers: Sandwiched Between Parenting Your Kids and Your Parents

Caring for kids and a loved one with Alzheimer’s, too? Here’s how to make it easier -- for everyone.
WebMD Feature

There are about 10 million people in the U.S. -- mostly women – who have chosen to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a grueling job in itself, but many aren’t only caregiving. They’re also raising kids of their own -- and maybe working – at the same time.

“You’re already a parent to your children, and then suddenly you have to become a caregiver to your parent,” says Donna Schempp, LCSW, program director at the Family Caregiver Alliance in San Francisco. “It’s very hard to be constantly flipping between those different roles.”

For anyone in the sandwich generation, squeezed between the responsibilities of parent and caregiver, days are spent packing lunches and meting out medications, checking homework and filling out insurance forms. It’s not easy, and a caregiver’s marriage, family, career, and health will be tested.

But by learning about Alzheimer’s disease and doing some planning, you can make life easier -- though never easy -- for your loved one, your family, and yourself. If you’ve recently joined the ranks of the sandwich generation, here are some things you need to know.

Face It: You’re a Alzheimer’s Caregiver Now

So if you’re a person with a job, and a family, and a parent with Alzheimer’s, what’s the first thing you need to do? Accept that you’re not just a parent and worker -- you’re a caregiver too.

That might not sound like you. It might seem a little grandiose. You’re just taking your mom grocery shopping or dragging her trash cans to the curb once a week. That’s not really caregiving, is it? But experts say it is.

“Caregiving doesn’t just mean taking care of a loved one 24 hours a day,” Schempp tells WebMD. “If you’re helping a parent out with the basics of living, you’re a caregiver. If your visits have stopped being social and become a necessity, you’re a caregiver.”

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