There are so many stressors attached to the phenomenon of the sandwich generation when parents are sandwiched between the dual responsibilities of caring for their children as well as aging parents. There are emotional stresses of not finding enough time for both care giving roles, logistical and financial stresses, and the stress of not having enough time and resources for oneself.
Here are some useful tips to help the sandwich generation:
Keep the channels of communication open between yourself, the older generation as well as the younger generation and make sure that each understands the other’s needs and points of view.
Have family discussions to try and figure out how best a problem can be tackled. The elders may offer insight born of wisdom whereas the younger ones may offer fresh perceptive – both can be valuable and keep the members of the family feeling valuable and involved.
Ask for help
There are many nonprofit organizations, government institutions and others that can offer help for parents caught in this stressful situation of being a sandwich generation. The local church or priest may also be able to offer assistance and guidance helping to deal with the situation. There are many programs aimed at helping the older generation with several of the issues that they may typically face – taking advantage of these can help manage the situation better.
Look after yourself
If you’re running on empty you will not be able to handle the stress; and will get into the vicious circle of being unable to manage and then yet more stress. So prioritize some time for yourself: some relaxing activity such as reading, music, exercising, taking the time to do things that you enjoy, spending quality time with your spouse and so on.
Also remember to take care of your health. The body will often give warning signs that you should either be doing less or that you actually need help. Listen to these before you have a real health issue to deal with.
Let go of the guilt
Not only is guilt corrosive and destructive, there is actually no need for it. No one can manage every single thing on their own; some aspects of care giving may not be satisfactorily addressed for a time and this is OK. You are not superman or superwoman and no one expects you to do every single thing perfectly and find time for everything. So long as you clarify the position to the rest of the family and keep communicating, there ought to be no recriminations and hence less guilt.