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Spring 2019

By Rachel Simpson, Family Engagement Specialist, TSBVI Outreach Program

Abstract: This article describes the Sandwich Generation and offers tips for thriving during this time of life.

Keywords: sandwich generation, caregiving, family, multigenerational, elder care, child care

The Sandwich Generation is a term that refers to a generation of people who are caring for their own children, as well as their aging parents.  Another way to describe this phenomenon is multigenerational caregiving.

Six people sitting on lawn chairs outside and smiling.  One person is waving to the camera.

Caption: Three generations of a family receive a visit from school personnel to celebrate the student’s high school graduation.

In the United States, the sandwich generation is represented by approximately 9.3 million people, says the National Alliance for Caregiving https://www.caregiving.org/ This has resulted from the effect of people starting their families later in life and the increasing length of our lifespan, according to the blog, A Place for Mom https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/

Does this describe your experience? Do you need more hours in your day in order to provide the attention and caregiving that your family members need? Though we can’t add more hours to your day, we would like to share some tips and tricks that people in the Sandwich Generation have found helpful.

  1. If possible, plan ahead. Take some time to talk with your parent about their wishes for supportive care as they age. Learn about local resources and the services they offer before they are needed.
  2. Prioritize. You can’t do it all, but you can prioritize and give more attention to the really important tasks.
  3. Ask for help. Communicate with your family. Have a family meeting to set caregiving priorities and let family members volunteer to complete some tasks. Ask for help from friends and neighbors. A small time commitment from them can make a world of difference for you. You can also call or do an online search for local resources. Sometimes it can be helpful to have some care provided by persons not in the family, when possible.
  4. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. None of us can serve others from an empty bowl. If you have not taken care of your own health or are burnt-out, you will find it more difficult to provide the care you want to offer your loved ones.
  5. Use time you already have set-aside for giving some extra attention to a family member. For example, you could take the time to really connect with your child while driving them to school or ask your family member about their day over dinner and really listen. Just a little attention can go a long way towards helping your family member to feel heard by you and special to you.
  6. Remember to bring your sense of humor along for the ride and be kind to yourself.

I hope that you find these tips helpful in your caregiving journey!