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Balancing Acts: Caring and Caregiving for the Sandwich Generation

Nov 24, 2023 | by Julia Jezmir, MD

In today's fast-paced world, the responsibilities of many individuals have expanded to encompass the care of not only their children but also their aging parents. This unique challenge has given rise to the term "sandwich generation," which refers to those who find themselves sandwiched between caring for their own children and supporting their elderly parents. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 23% of adults in the US are part of the sandwich generation, and 60% of them struggle to provide care to their aging parents.

Balancing these caregiving responsibilities can be emotionally, physically, and financially demanding. The sandwich generation often finds themselves in a complex web of caregiving. They face the demands of raising their children while simultaneously tending to the needs of their aging parents. This dual responsibility can create an emotional and logistical burden, leading to stress, guilt, and burnout. Below are some tips on how to help manage caring for both children and aging parents:


Caring for Children:

1. Time Management: Efficiently managing time is crucial for those in the sandwich generation. Creating schedules and routines can help to ensure that both children and parents receive the attention they require.

2. Open Communication: Fostering an environment of open communication with children, explaining the situation, and encouraging empathy and understanding is essential. Involve them in caregiving tasks as an educational experience and promote family unity.

3. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to ask for help when caring for children. A benefit of being a carer to older adults is that they can also play a key part in providing support to young children when needed.


Caring for Aging Parents:

1. Assess Their Needs: Understand the specific needs of aging parents. Are they self-sufficient, or do they require assistance with daily activities, medical care, or emotional support? Some needs may be too great to shoulder alone without more advanced assistance.

2. Legal and Financial Planning: Discuss and establish plans for their financial and legal affairs, such as wills, power of attorney, and healthcare directives. Many children often become a legal guardian of aging adults to ensure proper care is provided.

3. Seek Professional Advice: Consult with healthcare professionals, social workers, and support groups to gain insights into elder care, available services, and resources. ConcertoCare works directly with patients’ families and caregivers to create a care plan that benefits both the patient and the caregiver, so all parties are united on the goals.


Self-Care for Caregivers:

1. Prioritize Self-Care: It's essential for caregivers to maintain their own physical and emotional well-being. Prioritize self-care through exercise, relaxation, and seeking therapy or counseling if necessary.

2. Set Boundaries: Understand limitations and set boundaries. Caregivers shouldn’t be expected to do it alone, and it’s possible to overextend commitments. Be sure to seek occasional breaks and respite to help recharge.

3. Foster a Support Network: Connect with other members of the sandwich generation, as they can provide invaluable advice and emotional support. Caregivers can share their experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges.

Caring and caregiving for the sandwich generation is a delicate balancing act that requires patience, understanding, and resilience. By seeking support, establishing open communication with loved ones, and prioritizing self-care, caregivers can navigate these responsibilities with grace and compassion. The sandwich generation's journey may be demanding, but it is also an opportunity to strengthen family bonds and create meaningful connections across generations.