The sandwich generation, it’s those who are blessed with children to care for and elderly parents to also look after.
When someone is fortunate to have both it takes a tremendous toll on them, physically as well as emotionally. It is true that no matter how old your children get, they never stop worrying about them, their health, safety, and financial stability and so much more. What the sandwich generation was not warned about is that tugging feeling we get when we’ve spent hours helping a child with a particular issue only to then help a parent with an issue of their own, usually while at the office.
Most parents can remember telling their children not to open the front door for a stranger, it’s a common discussion. And now they’re repeating it to their aging parents, reminding them that there unscrupulous people looking to take advantage of the elderly, then having to remind them that they are elderly.
Being right in the middle of the sandwich, there is a great risk of burnout, depression, guilt, and isolation. There is the sincere feeling of gratitude to parents for bringing them up in a healthy and kind environment, (hopefully), and therefore they feel a sense of obligation to reciprocate. How then do they balance that with their desire to give their children all that we wish to give them? And is there enough of themselves to maintain a good and somewhat normal present day?
Something’s got to give, there is just not enough within the human capacity to do it all.
Of the many pieces of amazing advice they got was to have an in-depth discussion with their parents while they are capable of helping to make decisions and WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN.
A living will is not just about end of life decisions, but so much more and there are forms that can be downloaded from the internet and customized for their purposes. All will need to be signed, witnessed, and notarized. This is a true act of kindness for their children. This helps to minimize and often eliminate arguments later on.
The sandwich people have a great deal on their plate and that includes their relationship with their spouse, a job, and their own health. If they are lucky they have a real support system in place that includes a strong spouse that is ready to pitch-in, listen, and offer a reassuring hug as needed, often all at the same time.
So as not to break down, it is important to practice self care. This means sometimes there is a need to take a time out for yourself, with no guilt. The idea comes from the instructions given by flight attendants in the event of a sudden drop cabin pressure, put the oxygen mask on themselves first, before helping others. The metaphor resonates with so many of the sandwich people, who consistently put the needs of others ahead of their own.
The self care allows you to actually give more of an even better you.
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