The sandwich generation is not any particular generation or cohort, such as Generation X or baby boomers. A middle-aged adult who is caring for their parents, or older individuals AND their own children, is referred to as a sandwich generation. Sandwich generation caregivers juggle multiple duties such as schooling, jobs, childcare, and other everyday activities in addition to caring for an adult. Maintaining personal relationships at the same time. When the covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe, the sandwich generation was not spared.
Impact of COVID-19
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, managing and prioritizing commitments was a source of tension for members of the sandwich generation. The pandemic has now increased this strain.
COVID-19 has thrown many family members into caregiving positions, possibly for the first time. In addition, it is forcing current caregivers to change how they handle their responsibilities.
An estimated 28% of caregivers are in the sandwich generation. Further, many unpaid family caregivers are unemployed as a result of the pandemic. Some caregivers live with the individuals they care for, while others operate from a distance. Many factors have an effect on the role of caregiving. This includes the age and underlying conditions of the person receiving treatment.
Caregivers are stretched pretty thin. As a result, they may become tired, burnt out, or depressed. Mental health in general saw a decline throughout the pandemic. When you consider the added stress of all of the responsibilities that the sandwich generation manages, it’s no surprise that they are being impacted.
Tips for the Sandwich Generation
Caregivers from the Sandwich Generation provide invaluable assistance and compassion to their loved ones. A lot of people in this line of work feel fulfillment and purpose because they help others. However, even rewarding jobs can have emotional, physical, and financial strain. For this reason, many caregivers are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Set healthy boundaries
Setting boundaries is a skill that we can all benefit from, especially those who care for many people. When setting these boundaries, recognize what you can and cannot do. It’s okay to say “no” when necessary. We all have limitations. It may be helpful to make a to-do list so you can visualize all of your tasks. This will allow you to prioritize what is most important. Additionally, don’t be afraid to mark items off your to-do list if they aren’t absolutely necessary. You can also move them to a different day. If conditions change, remain flexible and find ways to simplify your life.
Strive for a balance. Sometimes there will be more give than take, and other times it will be the opposite. Recognize that every day and week will be different, and be able to adapt and focus on your family’s and personal needs.
Take care of you, too
Self care is not just about bubble baths and face masks. It’s also about basic human needs, like a healthy sleep cycle, nutritious foods, and exercise. So, decide what you want to do. Maybe it’s a 15-minute jog or a strict bedtime routine. Either way, stick to it. You deserve to be at your best, and it’s much easier to care for others that way.
Taking care of yourself could also involve speaking with your manager. Whether you are a caregiving employee or not, you might be able to take advantage of benefits. For example, paid time off, employee assistance programs, flexible hours, remote work, and more.
Ask for support
Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of relatives, coworkers, friends, or fellow church members when it comes to activities. Household activities are an area where children can assist. Family members who are unable to help with primary care may be able to help with money management and transportation to medical appointments.
Another outlet would be programs and services. Take the time to research these local programs. For instance, respite care and adult day care, as well as the costs associated with them. Perhaps this is an option for the individual that you are providing care to.
Speaking to a mental health professional might be a good option for caregivers who are struggling. Covenant Family Solutions offers therapy and medication management services. In addition, StrengthenU virtual therapy is available nationwide with text, phone, and video services. We are here to help.