The “sandwich generation” is traditionally defined as those who are caring for an aging parent while also raising a child under age 18. The term was coined by social worker Dorothy A. Miller, who described a generation of adults who are under the considerable emotional and financial stress of being “sandwiched” between the needs of their aging parents and the care of their growing children. Today, that definition needs some expansion. Advances in health and longevity mean that many sandwich generation caregivers are themselves aging while caring for loved ones in their 80’s and 90’s. Many are no longer caring for young children but may be responsible for the care of an elderly parent, sibling, spouse or other relatives while also working at demanding jobs, managing a household, handling finances and keeping up with home maintenance and other personal or professional responsibilities. In other words, still “sandwiched” with what can sometimes be an overwhelming responsibility. While caregiving can be overwhelming at times, there are things you can do to make it more manageable.
- Practice self-care. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to properly care for others. Even with a jam-packed schedule, try to take time every day for yourself. Taking a brisk walk, reading a good book, listening to favorite music or meeting a friend for coffee can help you relax and relieve some of the stress of caregiving.
- Ask for and accept help. Adult children and others may be willing to assist with some household chores, grocery shopping or yard work. Don’t feel you have to do it all yourself.
- Prioritize what matters and get organized. Try to find tasks can you cut out of your daily routine or put off for another day.
- Take time for your health. Get plenty of rest, eat regular meals and try to be physically active.
- Seek out resources in your community. Many cities and towns have councils on aging, adult daycare services or volunteer programs that can give you a break during the day.
- At least once a month, treat yourself to a manicure, nice dinner out or a concert to take yourself away from the situation and to reward yourself for the wonderful care you are providing to your aging relative.
- Try to stay positive. Having a positive attitude can help set the tone for all you have to do. You may not have control of your caregiving responsibilities but you can control how you react.
Caregiving is a significant responsibility, but with support, it can also bring great joy and satisfaction. If you decide that you need additional help at home, consider hiring private care services through a reputable agency such as Commonwealth Nursing Services (CNS). They can provide personal care, meal preparation and more to reduce the stress associated with being part of the new Sandwich Generation. You can contact CNS on this website by clicking here or call 978-459-7771.