With people living longer and delaying starting families, the Baby Boomer generation, also termed as the Sandwich Generation or Generation S, are finding themselves caught in a unique intergenerational mix in the family. While parenting children of their own who could be in various stages of growth – from young kids to adolescents, to boomerang children, to grown up children living with their parents – they also have to take care of their aged parents. When this is compounded with a spouse’s needs, along with the individual’s own spiritual and emotional needs, it can be a volatile mix indeed.
The Stress Factors of the Sandwiched
The following are a few of the stress factors that affect the sandwich generation:
- How to split time amongst children or family and elderly parent(s)
- How much time should be given to each role of care giving
- How to find time for one’s marriage
- How to find time for personal needs
- How to keep peace between the children and the aged parent
- How to find the needed resources to take care of oneself, the children, and the elderly parent
- How to deal with a sense of isolation
- How to deal with the guilt of not having the time to do everything
Here are a few tips with which some of these stress factors can be counteracted:
Holding a Meeting with the Family:
At the meeting, talk about the various tasks of care giving that have to be carried out in a day or a week. Make a list of tasks that have to be done by the members of the family each day or week. Set mutually accepted expectations of how these tasks should be completed. Although providing care for the elderly is usually done by a single person, but it doesn’t have to be that way if the rest of the family gives a helping hand. The meeting will also allow the rest of the family getting to know how they will be sharing and participating in the important act of providing care, which can be a rewarding experience.
Communicating with Each Other:
Encourage elders and children to connect with each other by communicating their feelings and thoughts. Ensure that during the meeting each person has the chance to express themselves. This leads to greater understanding between the generations, which results in better harmony in the household.
Dealing with Children:
Explain to your college going children about the necessity of being realistic about the kind of tuition fees you can afford. If there are boomerang children at home, share your expectations with them. Call upon them to behave responsibly, as adults, although they may be living with you.
If you experience a sense of isolation creeping in, pick up the phone and seek assistance from resources like a medical social worker, a local aging agency, the church, or a doctor. The Internet can also be a wonderful tool for finding resources. Never hesitate to seek assistance when you feel you require it; it could surprise you to find out just what kind of assistance there is out there providing help.
Making Time for Yourself:
Often caregivers fall sick or are exhausted because they do not take the time to look after themselves. Although it may be true that nobody else can provide the kind of care that you do, but it is equally important to take care of yourself in order to continue taking care of your loved ones. Take up an exercise regimen, and do it regularly. Eat nutritious meals. Take time off each day to do the kind of things you like such as listening to your favorite music, reading, painting, and so on. These activities can be self-rejuvenating. Do not think you are being selfish by looking after yourself. By being healthy and in a positive mood, you will be able to give even better care.
Making Time for your Marriage:
Also make time for your partner. Share relaxed moments with him/her. Go out together to see a movie or to a restaurant. Remember to have fun together, share a joke with each other, and don’t forget to laugh at the comical things about life.
© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF
Do you have any questions about career development or lifestyle changes for Baby Boomers, which you think others, like you, would want to know the answers? Please place a post on http://www.annabanks.com or email your questions to me at Anna@AnnaBanks.com