The need for extra family support can emerge over time or quite suddenly. When elder caregiving, parenting and career concerns coincide, the strain can be enormous. Add geographic distance to caregiving, and the stress of additional planning may be overhelming. The stress of being sandwiched or distanced can be managed.
Being the person who is simultaneously responsible for younger children and aging parents is a challenge. You are often referred to as the sandwich generation, an ever-growing number of people caught in the middle. You are caught in the middle between what your children need and want, what you need and want, and of course, what your older loved ones need and want. As the economy drives change in the composition of our households, some sociologists now write about the “club sandwich generation”, a term to describe someone who is providing care for their parents, their own children, and their children’s children. The primary goal of each generation is to have a sense of control and a sense of purpose. It is unreasonable to presume that you should be able to do this all, your career, your children, and your parents.
To help balance the competing demands of your life, the following strategies may help:
Plan ahead and talk about the changes that accompany aging and caregiving
- Secure agreement from your family that they will assist and support you and your loved one
- Develop a team of family, friends and medical personnel for support
- Clarify house rules
- Have weekly family meetings
- Establish role for each household member
- Prepare a long-range financial plan
- Use available community programs and services
The following sections may assist you: