There are a lot of generations currently represented in our population: the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millenials, and...the sandwich generation. But unlike the former generations (which represent people born during certain years), a sandwich generation might always maintain a presence. And here’s a bit of trivia for you: July is National Sandwich Generation Month! Those who make up the sandwich generation are those who are caretakers for both their children and their parents - hence, they are sandwiched between two generations of people who rely on them for caregiving. Here are some tips and resources for caregivers in this position.
Being a “sandwicher” means that you’re going to be busy.
Anyone who has ever raised children understands that it is a demanding, time-consuming, and hopefully rewarding job. In addition to raising kids, most parents also work a job and try to keep the house in functioning order. Now imagine having a parent or other loved one who relies on you for care as well. Even when someone only needs part-time care, coordinating and managing that care can quickly eat up precious time. It’s not a bad thing to be busy, but it’s important to manage expectations at the outset; being a sandwicher can significantly change your life on a day-to-day basis. Visit our Geriatric Care Management page to learn how PAN can help with total medical coordination for your loved ones.
Be prepared for conflicting emotions - and give yourself a break.
Sometimes, it’s tough to be the rock that everyone needs to rely on - and a lot of sandwichers are in that position. Many people are ready for a break after raising kids, and to be faced with caring for additional family members just when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel can feel like quite a burden. Occasionally, feelings of resentment, anger, and exhaustion can creep up, and this creates additional emotional turmoil for caregivers. After all, your parents are the ones who raised and provided for you (in most cases, hopefully!), and these conflicting emotions about caring for them can breed a lot of guilt. The most important thing to remember is that it’s OK to feel joyful, tired, depressed, fulfilled (or an entire range of other emotions) when your life feels largely composed of caregiving for others. The second most important thing is to take care of yourself as well; here are ten tips for caregivers to help with physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
Know when it’s time to ask for help.
In a previous blog, we listed some scenarios that indicate hired help should be considered. Do any of these remind you of your own position?
- Financial pressures will not allow you to take significant time off to care for a loved one
- You’re not located in the same area as a loved one who needs help, or commuting to them would create a serious burden
- There are disagreements among adult siblings about how to care for aging parents (read here how to defuse sibling disagreements)
- You have so many obligations on your plate that your life is being negatively impacted
If you recognize yourself in the scenarios above, it may be time to explore options to improve everyone’s quality of life. Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses has been providing top-notch care to residents in the greater Philadelphia area for over 30 years now. We provide a variety of in home care services, backed up by excellent, competent, and compassionate staff. A good place to start, however, is to learn more about the true costs of in home care, and how different types of services compare to each other price-wise. Read our article on comparing costs of different types of senior care.