Helping Two at Once!
The sandwich generation can loosely be described as a group of middle-aged adults who are providing care for their aging parents and their children at home at the same time. According to some reports, 47% of people spend at least two hours a day providing care for their parents or in-laws. This is an addition to the time that they spend providing care for their children. In our experience, this definition could be broadened to include seniors who are not only providing care for their older declining parents but are also providing care for their grandchildren, for whom they may be primary caregivers.
A close cousin of the strict sandwich generation caregiver is the one who not only is providing care for a declining parent but is also providing care for a spouse who may have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
We routinely see caregivers in all three of the above-mentioned categories. What is more stressful than providing care to one individual? The answer is providing care to two individuals at the same time! And these are not just random individuals. These are most likely the two individuals that you love the most and have interacted with on a daily basis for your entire adult life. Now they are both rapidly declining at the same time and both need a substantial amount of care that you (seemingly) only you can provide.
The Sandwich Generation Caregiver Trap
The Sandwich Generation Caregiver can feel trapped. Not trapped in a bad way – like they are feeling resentful of the situation and are looking for a way out. Instead they may feel trapped in the perceived reality that the two people closest to them are declining, depending on their help and they see no option other than continuing to personally provide all the care, all the time.
The two primary challenges with this approach are:
1) Need for Increased Future Care
Both individuals for which the primary caregiver is providing care will most likely need an increasing level of care in the future. If the Sandwich Generation Caregiver feels that their hands are full now, how is the situation going to feel six months from now?
2) What if the caregiver dies or becomes incapacitated?
The second critical question is – what if something happens to the Sandwich Generation Caregiver? Many times this caregiver may be of advanced age themselves or may have health issues of their own. Continuing to operate at a very stressful level on a daily basis may exacerbate any medical conditions that this Sandwich Generation Caregiver may now have.
This Sandwich Generation Caregiver may feel that they are way too busy to take time to stop and plan. Granted – they are very busy! But they know at an intuitive level that unless they do something now to set a future plan in motion, that in the not so distant future, things may suddenly spiral out of control and they may find themselves unprepared to respond quickly to the changes.
They also know that if something happens to them, the caregiver, then the two persons they love the most may both find themselves in a nursing home on the same day!
Now is the time for this Sandwich Generation Caregiver to take a few minutes a day to map out a plan as to what should happen when things change in the future. By making these decisions now, this caregiver can help add some stability to the life of his Loved Ones when things change. A few decisions may be:
Future Decisions Now
- Where should his Loved Ones receive care in the future?
- What type of care should they receive?
- How will this care be paid?
- Any other relatives involved?
- What legal documents need to be in place?
These are only a few of the decisions that should be made but they may serve to get the process started. The key is to take advantage of the time that is available now to plan. Wise use of this time may yield better results in the future for this caregiver and for those they love.
Making these decisions is not easy. We wish you the best as you work to help your Loved One get the best and most appropriate level of care possible.
We want to be friends!
Ok. That might come off a little fast, considering we barely know each other. However, we fully understand the stress and turmoil that you are facing as Family Caregiver – including personal experiences with burnout.
In our time as caregivers, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge that we desire to pass on. Likewise, we have met many professional caregivers, as well as other family members who were thrust as Family Caregiver. All caregivers have shared the same advice – Join a community! There is nothing more cleansing for our situation than knowing that we are not alone!
We have since created Caregiver Connection. Caregiver Connection is a newsletter that we write personally and send to fellow Caregivers. It is full of tips, tricks, and even professional advice. If you would like to sign up, click the button below.
Please Invite Someone to Our Newsletter
Being a member of the sandwich generation can be a scary, frustrating and lonely place lacking stability. You feel like you are solely responsible for solving Mom’s problems while managing yours. Some occasional input and a community to plug into would help, especially when facing burnout! This is a way that all of us can be working together as caregivers!
Many others that you may personally know are having to figure it all out by themselves. Most of them have no community. Please take a minute and do them a favor. Copy this link – help.mom/cc – and send it to them in an email or private message. They can click on it and subscribe to our newsletter for free.
Then they can enjoy weekly tips and encouragement. They no longer have to feel so alone in their family caregiver journey. They will appreciate the favor! Thank you for thinking of them!
Thank You for being a Caregiver for Your Loved One – you are making a huge difference in their life!