March 1, 2022

navigating the role of a Sandwich caregiver

Caregiving for multiple Generations

Sandwich Generation - Son, Father, and Grandfather - Caregiver Support

As an adult, it is likely that at some point you will be a caregiver of your child or of your parent. But what if they coincide at the same time? Welcome to the Sandwich Generation.

The Sandwich Generation includes:

  • The Traditional Sandwich: Caring for at least one parent and one child living at home at the same time
  • The Club Sandwich: Caring for a parent, your child, and your grandchild OR caring for your child, parent, and grandparent

Belonging to this cohort is not unusual, an estimated 28% (11 million) of caregivers are sandwich caregivers [1]. The majority are Generation X or Millennials, with the average age of 41 [1].

On top of caregiving, a majority of sandwich caregivers also work. Aside from employment and providing care for children, these caregivers dedicate on average an additional 22 hours a week to care for their parent [1]. Juggling all these needs and responsibilities can leave sandwich caregivers feeling drained, stressed, and physically and financially strained.

  • 1/3 report experiencing high levels of emotional stress
  • 1/5 report high levels of physical and financial strain
  • 44% report needing more information on managing stress [1]

Being squeezed in the middle, caring for multiple generations, can take a toll on one’s physical and mental health. Here are some tips to help navigate the space you are in:

  • Share the load: Friends, family, and neighbors can help with care. Sometimes people do not know how to provide support, so let them know what you need!
  • Review the books: Take time to review your household finances and those of your parents. Be sure to consider both current and possible future needs. Will you need to prepare for paying for college for your child as well as assisted living or home care for your parent? Are other family members able to contribute or is other assistance available? What are your retirement needs? Seek professional advice if needed.
  • Take a break: Your support network can provide caregiving relief when needed. Look into respite care or adult daycare options, like those offered by Winter Growth. It is okay to not be available 24/7.
  • Stay organized: Have family meetings to formalize a schedule. Know who is responsible for doctor visits, shopping, cleaning, cooking, and everyday care. Determine what days and times people can assist, etc.
  • Prioritize your health: Being physically and emotionally burned out can be detrimental to one’s health. Exercise, be mindful of nutrition, and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Try to take at least 30 minutes a day to do something you enjoy, such as reading, walking, talking with a friend, taking a bath, meditating, or journaling. Seek counseling or join a support group to manage stress. By prioritizing your own health, you will be better able to provide care for your loved ones.
  • Recognize you are doing your best: Guilt can creep in when choices must be made between generations. Taking time for yourself may leave you feeling guilty about taking time away from someone else. Managing it all does not mean perfection. There is no perfect pathway of caregiving. Know that your efforts are meaningful and appreciated.

Being a caregiver to any generation can be rewarding, yet challenging. Being a part of the Sandwich Generation may amplify this, but you are not alone. Utilize resources and support systems, ask for help, and remember to take care of yourself

Resources

[1] NAC-CAG_SandwichCaregiving_Report_Digital-Nov-26-2019.pdf

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Winter Growth’s founder dreamed of creating a community where seniors and adults with disabilities could continue to learn and grow – filling their lives with joy and purpose. For over 40 years, we have fulfilled her vision by providing unique, affordable Assisted Living/Memory Care and Adult Medical Day Care tailored to our clients’ individual abilities, interests, and lives.

Comments (1)

After my mom died, having my dad go to Winter Growth’s day program was just what all of us needed. My dad had a busy day doing things in a caring environment and I was able to work uninterrupted. I highly recommend it!

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