A sandwich represents, something squeezed or inserted between two objects or a thing. For example, books between to bookends, and then the more obvious, a piece of meat between two slices of bread.
The sandwich generation, who are also called generation X, juggles the care of aging parents 65 years and older, while simultaneously raising and supporting their own children. The children can range from infants, to college age young adults or older.
The aging parents, or Baby Boomers is the generation born after World War II ended. The nation’s economy began to prosper and the population exploded. They were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. Today, boomers are faced with many challenges, such as finances and health care. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this generation has the lowest poverty rate of all the generations. As Baby Boomers move towards retirement, many are having a hard time paying their bills because of rising cost of living, and fixed incomes. Others can’t afford to retire, and relay on their children for assistance. This assistance comes in many forms. In order to make ends meet aging parents have moved in with their children. Others because of failing health are placed in assisted living facilities or nursing homes by their children. This can be overwhelming and create a great deal of stress for the sandwich generation.
Creating a balanced lifestyle, helps diminish a certain level of stress. You must take care of yourself. Without taking care of you, you are unable to take care of others. You also set yourself up for a cornucopia of mental and physical issues that will create more stress. It is important to get plenty of rest, and proper nutrition.
As the primary caregiver most of the responsibilities may fall solely on you. Try and delegate or recruit older children to take some of the responsibility for the younger children. This could be making lunches for their younger siblings or doing some of the household chores. If you have siblings of your own, ask them to fill in where you are unable to, such as taking a parent to doctor or other appointments. Delegating chores or seeking help, allows you to take time for you, and eliminate some of the stress.
Organization and prioritizing daily or weekly schedules, also helps to reduce stress. Prioritize according to what's most important to both the children and the parents. Creating a list helps you to maximize your day.
Take time for yourself. Don’t think of it as being selfish. Give yourself permission to go for a long walk or a long ride in the country. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Once you take the time to do something for you, you will become refreshed and energized to continue to give the care where needed.
Last, but certainly not least, know that it’s ok to vent your frustration. Sometimes talking to others help you see a new perspective. Others my give you a new insight to caregiving that may be useful. Find support systems, especially when things start to get challenging.
The common theme in this article for the Sandwich Generation or Generation X is to take care of you. The reduction of stress becomes a healthier you. Remember there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can live a balanced and stress free life, while caring for others.