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How to Manage Sandwich Generation Stress: 5 Tips to Help You Care for Your Parents, Your Kids, and Yourself accent

January 31, 2024 | By

If you’re a parent yourself and a caregiver to your own parents, you may be all too familiar with Sandwich Generation stress. Balancing responsibilities can be overwhelming, and the love and compassion you feel for your family members can lead to burnout. We’re here to help with some tips to navigate this unique season of life.

What Is the Sandwich Generation?

The Sandwich Generation refers to adults with both a child they’re raising or financially supporting and a parent 65 or older. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. adults belong to this generation, and most are in their 4os.

Although every person’s situation is unique, people in the Sandwich Generation often share similar challenges. Parenting and caring for aging parents can be rewarding, but it can also take a physical, emotional, mental, and financial toll.

Therefore, members of the Sandwich Generation must be highly intentional about how they balance responsibilities and care for themselves to prevent burnout.

Tips for Minimizing and Managing Sandwich Generation Stress 

Some stress is inevitable, especially when you’re caring for others. However, with the right management strategies, you can keep stress to a minimum. 

1. Prioritize self-care.

Focusing on others’ needs can make it easy to neglect your own. However, self-care is key to not only your well-being, but also your ability to continue caring for others. Make time to relax and rejuvenate, whether that means exercise, meditation, or time spent with friends. Remember that simply going out on your own doesn’t count as self-care if you’re running errands or completing chores that serve the family. 

Don't feel guilty for taking breaks, and don’t wait until you’re at your wit’s end to give yourself a break. Make time for self-care and reach out to others for help before you feel completely burnt out.

2. Delegate where you can.

Many of us want to “do it all,” but it’s important to acknowledge your limitations and delegate where possible. Determine which tasks are more easily outsourced so you can involve others and lighten your load.

For instance, maybe your partner can fix dinner, or an older sibling can help a younger sibling with homework. Encouraging your children to take on age-appropriate responsibilities in caring for their grandparents or younger siblings isn’t just helpful for you; it can also help them learn important life skills that will serve them well in adulthood.

3. Embrace structure and routine.

If you’re frequently feeling overwhelmed or struggling to get everyone in the family on the same page, a consistent routine can create a sense of stability and predictability for everyone involved. Schedules and routines often decrease stress and ensure that important tasks are completed.

Talk to your family members about how you can work together to maintain a detailed calendar or planner to keep track of appointments, medications, school events, and other important dates. This will help prevent oversights and mishaps that can add stress.

4. Communicate openly.

Communication is key in any family, especially when you’re navigating challenging circumstances. Maintain open and honest communication with all parties involved: your parent(s), your partner, your child(ren), and siblings or other caregivers. Discuss challenges, concerns, and expectations to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.

It’s also helpful to chat with a friend outside of your family when you need some empathy, support, or advice. In turn, seek out someone in a similar situation to help them understand the joys and challenges of this season of life. If you lack a personal connection, consider joining an in-person or online support group where you can meet and befriend other Sandwich Generation members.

5. Know when it’s time to make a change.

Sometimes, caring for both kids and parents can become too much to manage — especially if you don’t have local family members to help. Instead of struggling and constantly feeling like you’re falling short, don’t be afraid to make a change that could be better for everyone. 

You may be surprised by the valuable benefits your parent(s) could experience by taking advantage of senior living services, such as:

  • At-home services, like a home health aide
  • Independent living
  • Assisted living 
  • Memory care
  • Long-term care

Talk to your parents about senior living, and evaluate your options to determine if any of these services are a good fit for them and the rest of your family.

Senior Living: A Path to Elevated Care and Quality of Life

The Sandwich Generation faces a lot of responsibility. They care for both aging parents and children, often at the expense of their own well-being. Although these challenges can lead to Sandwich Generation stress, practical support is available. Senior living services can alleviate strain and enhance the quality of life for both caregivers and their loved ones. 

If you’re resistant to senior living, it may be because you’re picturing a hospital-like environment devoid of vibrancy, dignity, and independence. Today, many senior living communities don’t remotely resemble these negative stereotypes. In a WesleyLife Community for Healthy Living, your parents could enjoy their private home on a beautiful campus with access to helping hands and a wide range of amenities and programming to make life more convenient and fulfilling. 

Take our assessment to find out if it is the right time for senior living for your loved one.

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