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When You Care Too Much: The "Sandwich Generation"
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on July 29th, 2014

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When You Care Too Much: The "Sandwich Generation"

assisted living  |  tips for caregivers  |  Aging & Caregiving

sandwiched-blogYou may not have heard of the “Sandwich Generation,” but if you’re reading this post there’s a large chance you’re a part of it. The term refers to middle-aged Americans who are “sandwiched” between caring for their aging parents and their own young children.

In fact, nearly 50 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 55 fall into this category with 15 percent providing financial support at both ends. Caused by a “perfect storm” of an aging population, increased life expectancy and the challenges of financial independence facing today’s young adults, the trend is expected to continue.

Read on to learn three things you can do to counteract stress and overcome the challenges of membership in this not-so-exclusive "club".

1. Talk It Out

Keep the lines of communication open between all parties by designating a family meeting to help set expectations. While you may be the primary caregiver, there’s no reason others can’t pitch in to help. Don’t think of it as passing along your burden: caring for a loved one can be extremely rewarding when responsibilities are manageable. Also, make sure all parties have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings during this meeting.

2. Help Is Out There

Caregivers are subject to burnout, stress, isolation and depression due to inadequate support networks. Don’t suffer in silence. Instead, take advantage of resources designed to help you get the assistance you need. Your Area Agency on Aging is a great place to start, and may be able to point you in the direction of a Family Caregiver Support Program. Many churches and hospitals offer meetings for caregivers.

If you can't find a program that’s a good fit for you, the Internet offers a valuable forum for social interaction and sharing information. You aren't alone, and the Internet offers the chance to connect with millions of people who understand your challenges.

And don’t be afraid to call on family members and friends: they can’t help you if they don’t know what you need.

3. Take a Time Out

If you’re like most other “Sandwich Generation” caregivers, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Unfortunately, you will suffer if you attempt to squeeze all of your responsibilities into the limited time you have. Not only does this lead to burnout, but it can also take a serious toll on your health. The best thing you can do -- for yourself as well as for your loved ones -- is to claim some protected time for yourself. Even 15 minutes of reading, exercising, listening to music or taking a hot bath can help you relax and recharge.

Caregiving for one person is challenging enough, but across multiple people with vastly different needs, the unmitigated demands can become downright debilitating. Rather than succumbing to the stress, these small steps can help you gain control. In doing so, you'll not only be a healthier, happier person, but you'll also be a more responsive caregiver.

Key Takeaways

  • Challenges and stress are a natural part of caregiving, but there are ways to lighten your load without shirking your responsibilities.
  • Open lines of communication -- between all parties -- are critical to understanding each other’s needs.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
  • Schedule beneficial “me time” every day to recharge.

Sandwiched Series

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.