Caregiving in the Sandwich Generation: Do you feel you are being Squeezed? CategoriesTo Your Health & Sanity

Caregiving in the Sandwich Generation: Do you feel you are being Squeezed?

It was a beautiful August afternoon, and my 86 year old mom and I were sitting in my living room knitting baby hats while Jacob, my year old grandson was sleeping in his Pack N Play. My cell phone rang, and it was a caregiver who just needed to talk. Marie was of the Sandwich Generation where she, too, was taking care of her 3 year old grandson and her 80 year old mother. As I was listening to her, I could feel her frustration at the thought of literally having to switch her brain to help her 3 year old tie his shoes, while helping her mother keep track of her medications. I told Marie to remember to stay calm and just move through the motions while assisting her grandson and mom. She told me she was having trouble getting things done around the house because of the commitment to her husband and five children. The stress Marie was feeling was mounting, and she was in tears at the thought of not having others there to help. Does this sound familiar to you?

After I got off the phone, my mom put her knitting down and asked me, “Marilyn, what is the sandwich generation?” My mom had taken care of Grandma and Poppop as well as my father, but this Sandwich Generation concept confused her.

“Well, mom, it is my generation. You see, I am of the Sandwich Generation as I take care of Jacob and you, even though I care for you long distance. I’m like the jelly in between two pieces of bread.”

Many caregivers find when siblings are not available or willing to assist, they may have to ask friends or hire a company to help when the caregiver needs a rest. This is very common in families, and it always seems there is only one person who is willing to be dedicated enough to give care to a loved one.

I am writing a book, Nurturing the Caregiver’s Soul offering caregivers tips, strategies and hints on how to take care of themselves. We caregivers are the very last to think about our own health needs, and as a result, our health generally takes a dive during and/or after the caregiving is completed.

I find being of the Sandwich Generation, remembering to take care of YOURSELF, is of prime importance. I always like to get up earlier in the morning to write in my journal before my husband gets up. Although I am not a morning person, sometimes I just run out of sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, I generally get up, drink eight ounces of water, fix my morning health beverage and begin to start my day. This gives me ample time to get my act together before calls, deliveries, and receiving my precious grandson; who is raring to go upon arrival.

. The Sandwich Generation is a relatively new concept as people in their fifties and sixties find they are taking care of their grand-children, children, and parents. We are of the Baby Boomer generation squeezed into a Sandwich type situation. It can be somewhat complicated and many caregivers feel they have to switch their thought processes in order to take care of a young person then a parent.

I’ve learned to be a better listener while juggling caregiving with a young toddler and a mother, who lives eight hours away. There are times when my daughter needs to discuss her day, or my mom has a question about how to take care of her sore hand. Developing listening skills is very important in giving care, particularly being “sandwiched in” between two generations. Sometimes, I feel like the “Gumby doll” being stretched both ways. This is when I will sit down, close my eyes, and spend a few minutes doing some deep breathing exercises while sending all my cares and concerns into a very fast jet and sending that jet away as fast as that jet can fly.

Remember, YOUR HEALTH COME FIRST! I care about you! Take care of yourself and don’t forget to Smell the Roses!

You will be so glad you did!

One thought on “Caregiving in the Sandwich Generation: Do you feel you are being Squeezed?”

  1. Everyone needs a break. But sandwich generation caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves first, otherwise they are no good to their children or parents because they are suffering from burnout. Taking care of you first is the golden rule of caregiving. Sometimes seeing a family counselor, psychiatrist or doctor is necessary for those who are sandwich generation caregivers.

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