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Friday, July 27, 2018

Living Life During the Sandwich Generation

If you have read my blog long then you know that I grew up in a small town in Central Illinois. One of my friends, was a girl named JoAnn who during her early teen years started taking care of her mom. Her mother, was plagued with mental illness and also afraid to travel outside of the apartment that they lived in. Her mothers condition meant that JoAnn had to do all the errands that needed to be done outside of the house as well as take care of her mom as she was often in bed sick.

That is just one example of younger parents taking care of their parents. It is estimated that one of every eight Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent. Another 7-10 million adults are caring for their parents and live a long distance away. Individuals age 65 or older will double by the year 2030.

The sandwich generation is a term leant to the generation that is taking care of both their own children and their aging parents. In fact, the sandwich experience has led to many different directions including:

  • Traditional sandwich style is where an individual is taking care of their aging parents as well as raising their own children
  • Club Sandwich are typically individuals in their 40s, 50s, or 60s that are taking care of their own parents, helping their adult children and grandchildren as well. This group also contains those individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s with young children, aging parents and possibly grandparents that they help take care of
  • Open faced sandwich is a group that captures everyone else not covered by the top 2 groups

Many times poor economy has led to the sandwich generation being more visible. Many young post college kids return home to live with parents or are living with their parents through college. Parents in these circumstances freel a responsibility to help their children as we all want to see our children be successful. At the same time their parents have reached an age where they need more help as well. Daily functions such as medical services, supervision, medication, financial help, legal help and simply being their through emotional issues is where some individuals may need to help parents.


One of the best thing to do is to get organized. If you know what your next step is life often gets easier. Take some tome plan ahead and keep control of your life. Appointments should be taken note of immediately. A daily agenda is also very helpful for running errands, paying bills, keeping appointments etc.. There are many websites and books that can help you with meal planning , keeping an organized list of supplies on hand will help save you for those unexpected times as well. Planning ahead can help relieve stress and helps you feel like you have more control. 

Life is not always easy, thats a given. For those that are part of the Sandwich generation it may be even harder at times. For example, the telephone rings and on the other end is a list of instructions and demands that must be done "right now" Stress may overcome the moment and allow panic to come in. Take a moment take inventory of what is going on at the moment, is it a true emergency that someone needs help because they are in danger?? If it is not a crisis try to figure out where it can be worked into your busy day. To avoid such issues when it comes to things that occur commonly if possible ask if errands can be given to you a few days with prior notice. By meeting the needs of individuals you care for while keeping healthy boundaries should help all. 

The best thing for you to personally do is to find something that allows you a few moments of relaxation. Whether it be through prayer, meditation, art, music or even a computer app try to take time to do that daily. Stay in the now without regrets. We love both our aged parents as well as others and our children at home. Make memories through out life , every day don't wait til the time is gone and all that remains is regrets. Take time to smile, laugh and enjoy life. It is so easy to get caught up in all that goes on that we forget how wonderful these individuals are to us. Our time is limited , make wise choices so that a balance can be found in our sandwich generation life.

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