Back to school in the Sandwich Generation

by: Corrina Masson, B.S.W & Care Manager

With August comes the end of the summer season and the beginning of the back to school rush. For some, this time is filled with excitement, but for many in the sandwich generation it can cause a great deal of stress. The term “sandwich generation” refers to individuals in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who are caring for both their children and their aging parents. Though it can be rewarding, acting as a primary caregiver to both growing children and aging parents can create a great number of challenges.

families in the sandwich generation with elderly parents and children

Does this sound familiar?

My mother’s Alzheimer's is getting worse, she’s getting more forgetful and I need to be around more to help her. My father-in-law has ALS and he is needing help too. I keep having to miss work to take my parents to appointments and I know my boss is getting frustrated. I am trying to balance my full time job, raising two teenagers, taking care of my parents and cleaning the house. I have no time for myself or to get anything done. I am always tired and stressed.

The chaos from balancing work, children and the unexpected needs that arise from aging parents (hospitalizations, illnesses, falls, etc.), can easily lead to family caregiver burnout. Here are some strategies for dealing with this situation:

  1. Do not be afraid to ask for help, it becomes impossible for one person to manage everything alone. Between scheduling appointments, weekly visits to your parents and managing your own life, the pressure can quickly escalate and become overwhelming. Asking for help from those around you such as siblings, a spouse or a friend can relieve stress and create a sense of support.
  2. Involve all family members in the planning process. Though you may be the primary caregiver for your parent, involving those around you can be helpful to discuss new ideas. It can be overwhelming to make decisions without any feedback or support. Involving others can reduce the stress you may be feeling about making life changing decisions for your loved ones.
  3. Don’t forget about your needs. Implement a healthy diet, regular exercise and proper amounts of sleep, so that you can recharge your body and mind.
  4. Respite! Services such as home care can be an option for families who want to keep their parents in their own home. These services can vary depending on the needs of each client. Be sure to select a home care company that will meet with you and develop a customized care plan tailored to the needs of your loved one.

With all the responsibilities that you are faced with, it is important to be able to reach out for support with regards to making decisions on your parent’s needs. Do your research and consider all your options. Understanding what your needs are, what resources are available, and seek professional help. This will not only relieve stress, but it can also provide you with the opportunity to continue to spend quality time with your parents.

Note: This article is for informative purposes only. Always check with a medical professional.


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