5 Ways to Survive Sandwich Generation Caregiver Struggles

  • July 13, 2017

We call them the “sandwich generation” because they are sandwiched between the needs of their families.

The Sandwich Generation Feels the Squeeze

Surprisingly, almost half of people in their 40s and 50s qualify as members of the sandwich generation. They are caring for their parents — or starting to think about it — while still raising their own families. Considering that boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, the sandwich generation is expected to grow exponentially. 

In order to recognize the dedication and patience this dual caregiver role requires, July is designated as Sandwich Generation Month. 

It’s the perfect time to dole out some advice on caregiver stress relief, tailored to the sandwich generation. Here are five ways to survive your struggles. 

1. Ask for Help. If it’s Offered, Accept It!

Nobody expects a caregiver — especially a sandwich generation caregiver — to do this alone. If it’s difficult to ask for help, learn how. If you don’t, you run a very high risk of suffering caregiver burnout. Here’s a collection of reminders and tips for accepting help:

  • Do not be a martyr. Accept help when people offer it. 
  • Burned out caregivers are stressed out caregivers. Stress can weaken your immune system, cause fatigue, and generally make your life more difficult. 
  • Accept that you cannot do everything: nobody can! Everyone has limitations.
  • Forgive yourself if you have to take shortcuts once in a while. For example, maybe you can’t always be the Martha Stewart of housekeeping or the Julia Child of home cooking. Some things just have to give. 

2. Open the Lines of Communication

A major source of caregiver stress is worrying about the unknown. One of the biggest unknowns with older Americans, besides health, is finances. If caregivers don’t know the complete financial picture, then this can add to the stress. If you’re worried about how a parent will afford long-term care, assisted living, or medical bills, it’s time to start a dialog with your senior loved one(s)

Although it’s not an easy one to have, you are definitely not doing yourself or your senior loved one a favor by delaying this type of conversation. 

3. Get Your Ducks in Order

Maybe this should read ‘get your parents’ ducks in order’. Again, dealing with the unknown is a common source of stress for caregivers. You’re planning to have a conversation about finances. Now plan for a similar conversation about planning. 

Do your parents have the following? 

  1. A will
  2. A healthcare proxy
  3. A living will
  4. A long-term care plan

Some families also include pre-funeral planning in such conversations. Either way, while we’re on the subject, you may want to prepare these documents for yourself as well. You may rest easier knowing there’s a plan in place to care for your children should anything happen to you. 

4. Be Aware of Resources that Can Help You

The Internet can be a fabulous resource for sandwich generation caregivers. There are books, articles, blogs and more dedicated to exploring the struggles and solutions for sandwich generation caregivers. Just enter the term ‘sandwich generation’ into a search engine and you’ll see for yourself the vast pool of resources. 

5. Carve Out Some ‘Me Time’ 

Working yourself to the bone and foregoing everything that makes you probably won’t end well. Giving up your identity will cause incredible stress in your life, as well as those around you. That includes those whom you’re caring for. 

Find ways to incorporate a little bit of ‘you’ into every day. It might require modifying your routine a bit, but the idea is to maintain activities that help you relax and recharge. 

While you may be currently feeling the squeeze of caring for parents and children simultaneously, take heart: you’re not alone. Plus, there’s always the option of assisted living for your senior loved one(s). We have sixteen communities in Indiana alone so you can stay close to your loved ones at all times. Call us to learn more or to schedule a tour

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