Did you know that July is designated as Sandwich Generation Month? Here in the South, you may be thinking that means the seasonal, southern favorite – a fresh tomato sandwich (a perfect blending of white bread with a homegrown, freshly picked tomato, sliced and slathered with your Duke’s mayonnaise). “Yum” doesn’t begin to describe it, right?
But that’s not quite the topic… The generally accepted definition for someone in the sandwich generation is an adult (most likely actively working), usually ranging between 40 and 59 years of age with aging parents on one side and younger family on the other side. In other words, you’re the tomato, with a different set of needs on either side.
These needs can take many forms. For instance, you may be responsible for:
- Ensuring that parents have their medicines and transportation to doctor appointments
- Getting kids to school, sports, lessons, etc.
- Making sure parents are living in a safe environment
- Helping with homework
- Helping parents with their budgets
- Finding time for yourself and your spouse
- Being pulled in different directions!
You get the picture. You’re in the middle of the sandwich!
How can you cope? Not to fear; there are resources available to help.
- Reach out for professional help – either from a caregiver perspective or even a financial advisor.
- Take care of yourself. One of the common issues for a caregiver is self-care. Getting caught up with everyone else’s needs puts yours on the backburner. To avoid this burnout, ask for help — from either side. Perhaps one of your parents could help the kids with their homework? Perhaps one of your kids could spend time with their grandparents and get some cooking lessons, etc. Generations working together puts a smile on everyone’s face!
- Utilize respite care options to give yourself some “you-time.”
- Hold family meetings to share how everyone is doing and what’s on the horizon. Delegate as possible so that no one has to shoulder too big a load. Plan together and work together!
Remember, one of these days, you’ll move over to the other side of that sandwich and you want your kids to be ready to take on the responsibilities of that important middle (i.e. tomato) role!
Okay, now I’m hungry! Tomato sandwich anyone???