Even though the ‘sandwich’ generation sounds like delicious lunch options, it’s not related to food at all. Instead, it refers to adults who are ‘sandwiched’ between caring for their children and their aging parents. While making sure their children’s emotional, physical, and financial needs are met, they also have to care for parents who now require the same due to illness and old age.
Managing employment and the weight of these care obligations, many adults struggle to cope. However, with some changes to everyday life, you may be able to prevent the burnout that can often follow.
Consider Care Facilities
As challenging as it can be to bring up the topic for discussion, a change of accommodation can be a lifesaver for adult children worried about their parents living alone. Living arrangements like those at Northgate senior living facility can mean loved ones get the care and supervision they need while still living in a home-like environment.
Adult children can sometimes be worried about putting their parents into care, knowing traditional facilities take on the supervising role of dozens of residents at a time. Smaller facilities with a family focus can relieve those fears while allowing them to focus on their own children’s needs.
Get the Kids Involved
As much as you may want to shield your children from adult responsibilities, there are things they can do to help that are within their capabilities. Caring for both kids and aging parents shouldn’t be on your shoulders alone. Choose age-appropriate tasks that each child can do to help their grandparents. For the young ones, it can be something as simple as bringing their grandmother a glass of juice and some cookies. Teens may be able to drive to visit their grandfather, or take him to his medical appointments.
Learn to Say No
We can’t say yes to every extra-curricular activity, every bake sale, every school camp volunteering position, and every birthday party invite. Being a full-time parent to your children and parents can require some sacrifice. You might be racked with guilt at the prospect of your kids missing out on everything they want to do, but it’s imperative to your mental health. Having no time to sit back and relax from time to time can eventually lead to burnout. You’re then unable to care for either your children or your parents to the best of your ability.
Learn to Say Yes
You’re learning to say no to taking on more responsibilities. Still, you may also see the value in saying yes to extra help when someone offers it. Look for community services that may be able to provide respite care. Reach out to friends and family who can babysit the kids while you take an hour for yourself. Being in the sandwich generation is challenging, so when help is readily available, accepting it can be worth your while.
At least one in seven Americans will form part of the sandwich generation, according to a Pew Research Center Study. Having coping mechanisms and a plan in place can put you in the best position possible to spread your care while not compromising on self-care at the same time.