If you are unfamiliar with the term, the “sandwich generation” is a group of middle-aged adults who are responsible for providing care to both their aging parents and their own children. It is a difficult job performed by many people everyday. It often takes a toll on the people caught in the middle.
According to Statistics Canada, more than two million Canadians are a part of the sandwich generation. They account for 28 percent of all caregivers in the country, with the majority of them being women between the age of 35 and 44.
Specifically, the mothers of this age cohort feel more stress than other members of this age group. Mothers are known to put their family needs first, which usually comes at a cost to themselves personally. Not being able to accomplish certain tasks, or not meeting the demands of their ever-demanding calendar can lead to extreme stress if not dealt with properly.
In this blog, we will discuss five of the challenges that folks in the sandwich generation often face.
- Added Stress
Stress and anxiety are strong emotions felt by members of the sandwich generation. Due to responsibilities that could include worrying about your children, ensuring your parents are safe and healthy, juggling work efforts, staying active, and so on – it is easy to become overwhelmed.
When stress becomes overwhelming, caregivers can often find themselves physically drained and their personal health suffers as a result. They are reported to have 23% higher levels of stress hormones and due to neglecting their personal health needs. 40.7% develop chronic diseases of their own.
- Financial Strains
Due to the constant demands of family caregiving, many people are required to take time away from work. Whether it be taking a few hours off to accompany your aging parent to the doctor, or taking a day to spend time with them and help them with household chores, it is still time away from the office that could affect their salary or wages. Thinking about creating a college fund for your kids, saving for your own retirement, and worrying about your aging parents’ expenses is a lot to have on your mind.
For many people, caregiving becomes a full-time responsibility which may cause some to take time away from work altogether. Whether you decide to commit to caregiving full-time, or decide to have your loved one leave their home and move into an assisted living or long-term care home, it costs a substantial amount of money either way – another stressful situation for the sandwich generation.
- Balancing Career
In this day and age, the sandwich generation often consists of two full-time working parents. Between juggling taking care of their children, and caring for their aging parents, it is hard to be consistent and still progress in your career as well.
If you work from home or have a flexible work schedule it is more doable, however, not everyone has the kind of job or situation where this flexibility is possible. Stress outside of work can trickle into stress at work, and it might affect your career in the long run. Not having the time, energy, or focus to meet your targets might stunt your advancement opportunities. Not having balance makes life even more challenging for the sandwich generation to stay afloat.
- Mental Health Suffers
Caregiver burnout is a term often discussed in the caregiving community. It is common for those in this position to feel alone and overwhelmed. When left unchecked, caregiver burnout can lead to more serious issues down the road, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other health issues.
We often hear the term “super mom” to identify the mothers that seem to do it all. However, this can be a gold standard that is often unrealistic if not very difficult to achieve. Much is expected of the sandwich generation and the goal is often to juggle all demands with ease – to stay organized, raise a family, look after aging parents, keep a tidy house, and have a colour-coded schedule. However, it is not always as it seems, as for many in the sandwich generation, keeping up takes a deep toll on their mental wellbeing.
- Making Time for Yourself
It is common for those in the sandwich generation to put others’ needs ahead of their own. They become so engulfed in caring for their families, parents, and tending to their careers, that they forget to take care of their own physical and mental needs. Taking a walk, going to the gym, reading a book, or taking a bath seems like time wasted as there are always more “important” things to do. However, ignoring one’s personal physical and mental health is not sustainable and continuing to do so eventually leads to a breaking point.
At the end of the day, if you are not making time for yourself, you cannot provide the best care for others. Sometimes it is okay to say ‘no’, to understand your limits, and to prioritize your self-care over other aspects of your life. Your mind and body will thank you.
So with all these challenges, how can people in the sandwich generation cope? Taking time for yourself is essential to both your physical and mental well being. There are professional services as well as time management techniques that members of the sandwich generation can employ to ensure loving care for their family and aging parents all the while managing career demands and maintaining a work-life balance that is healthy. Delegating tasks to professionals that care as much as you do, can help establish this balance.
That is how iAccompany was born.
Being in the sandwich generation themselves, led our founders to establish a service to help.
Visit www.iaccompany.net and connect with us to see how our qualified nursing professionals can assist your loved one when it comes to their healthcare needs.
The health of your loved one is an important topic as we often get busy and staying involved becomes a burden. However, our service allows you to stay connected to your loved one’s health care – even when you cannot be at their appointments yourself.
We understand life gets busy so we created a solution to help.
Tune in to our blog post next week on “Ways to Manage” that focuses
on solutions for the sandwich generation to consider.