Sandwich Generation Caregiving
Twice As Hard As Caregiving for One
Yikes! I was never a sandwich caregiver, but I am part of the sandwich generation. My daughter and her husband are the caregivers. They watch out for their parents - including driving, providing meals, attending appointments, etc. They also have two adult married sons and a granddaughter, who they support in other ways.
The typical “sandwich generation” caregiver is someone who cares for loved ones in the generations above (aging parents or grandparents) and below (children or grandchildren). Sometimes that includes caring for a spouse or partner as well.
This caregiver juggles competing responsibilities with conflicting emotions.
The AARP website offers suggestions that can help people in that role.
Provide care by need, not fairness.
Double caregivers may feel compelled to give each recipient equal time and effort, even if they don't have the same degree of need. Instead, they should pick and choose by judging the urgency.
Learn to delegate responsibilities.
Double caregivers must be sensitive to people's vulnerabilities and limitations, including their own. They may have to delegate specific responsibilities to others, even if the person being cared for objects. Or, they may have to depend on community resources and care managers, even if they don't completely trust them.
The Slow Creep.
No one plans to be the person who's caring for several family members at once. More likely, they quietly commit to helping a loved one in need. They slowly take on more and more duties as their family members age and require more assistance.
The Mental Health America website says
About a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) are a part of the sandwich generation. Being a sandwich-generation caregiver can be exhausting, expensive, and emotional. Juggling it all isn’t easy, but there are ways to make it easier.
Possible everyday stressors and solutions can include:
Little To No Personal Time
Caring for a family member takes a lot of time and energy – when you’re in the middle and doing both, it can feel impossible to make time for anything other than caring for others. What might help?
Prioritize being organized.
Ask for help.
Get siblings and relatives to help - if possible.
While it can be a time for siblings and other relatives to come together and provide mutual support, the transition often elicits intense emotions.
Be honest and direct about your feelings.
Be realistic about what help others can provide.
Try to see things from each other’s points of view.
Dealing With Complex Emotions
While you may be your parent’s caregiver now, you’re still their child.
Attending to your own needs is imperative.
Feeling Like A Failure
As a sandwich-generation caregiver, you might feel as if you can’t be the parent you want to be to your children or the caretaker you want to be to your loved ones. So,
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Pay attention to avoid thinking in the extremes.
Acknowledge all you’ve done.
Navigating Cultural Expectations
Every culture and family has varying norms and expectations regarding family caregiving. Many individuals consider caregiving a cultural expectation, and there may not be an actual decision about taking on the responsibilities – it’s simply a given. It’s common to feel resentment or bitterness about being pushed into this role.
The AARP article 9 Ways to Manage Sandwich Generation Stress offers helpful tips. The stress is like no other because you are juggling two forms of caregiving.
Similarly, 7 Tips for the Sandwich Generation Family Caregiver provides possible suggestions.
This situation occurs more often as parents live longer and kids live at home longer. So it is wise to be prepared.
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