Have you heard of the ‘sandwich generation’? Are you the meat in the middle – still finishing the child raising and caring for aging parents? This sandwich generation is now different than it has ever been before. It is the older Generation X and the younger Boomer generation now in this position. This means this sandwich generation has more dual career couples, more divorces, and generally more independent people juggling the younger and older generations.
Certainly you are blessed when you have children who are nearly or newly on their own AND you still have your parents. So many of us miss that opportunity.
If you do have this opportunity, it can be very challenging. Typically there are several other things happening around the same time.
Other changes while you’re the meat in the sandwich
The sandwich phase usually comes while in your late 40’s through your 60’s. During this time some other commonalities are:
- You’re at the peak of your career
- Friendships/relationships are no longer made through your children’s activities
- Your own health is changing
- If you’re a woman, you’re somewhere near menopause which brings its own health changes
- You’re thinking about your ‘bucket list’
Tips for you to be the best ‘meat’ possible
It is so easy to get caught up in the needs of your parents and children and to forget about you in the process. If you fall ill, get injured, or burn out, then everyone loses. I don’t mean to add to your pressure. I just want to encourage you to take care of yourself as the caregiver.
- Sleep to maintain clear thinking and patience
- Exercise to stay healthy and stay strong
- Healthy diet with fruits and vegetables vs grab-n-go fast food
- Time off to maintain your mental health
Resources to help you
There are many resources available to help you as you help your aging parents. With the aging of the population, the numbers and types of resources are rapidly increasing.
Medications are often involved when someone reaches a point where they have difficulty living without assistance. That is our specialty at Meds MASH. Over 80% of people we see have a specific medication issue that we work with you doctor to address to help you stay safe at home. For 100% of all people we have seen, we have provided important education about medicines and how to get the most from healthcare visits.
There are several types of services that can assist with safely aging at home or in a place designed for safe aging. There are homecare services that can provide someone to help with tasks such as companionship, housekeeping, bathing, cooking, driving, and more. There are independent living communities with assisted living options when needed. There are assisted living facilities at many sizes, price ranges, and amenities.
If your parents’ home would be safer with some modifications, look for a contracting that is a certified aging in place specialist. You can learn more at http://www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx
A certified aging life care manager is an expert on your local resources that can assist with healthy aging. I think of these people as one-stop-shopping for many of your questions and needs. You can learn more at http://www.aginglifecare.org.
Legal and financial questions can be complex. These are elements that are easiest to address while your parents are still fully in command of their own finances. That is a good time to plan for the future in case you, your siblings or other friends/family will assume control of those key areas of your parent’s life. Decisions about advanced directives, power of attorney, and memorial wishes are easiest to make while your parents are fully able to make their own decisions. However, even if you miss that window, these resources (elder care attorney and financial advisor) can help guide you through each step. Here is a resource that can help you find an eldercare lawyer http://www.naela.org/findlawyer.
This is a very brief overview of the many resources that exist to help you and your parents navigate this sandwich time of life. We are glad to help you navigate this complex time and to identify these helpful resources. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.
This blog has acknowledged how difficult and consuming this time of life can be – in the phase of supporting children and aging parents. Resources and tips for self-care have been provided.
Another essential aspect for all of the complex phases of life is an awareness of the sufficiency of God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
As in this verse, Paul is very clear that he was weak and unable to do what God called him to do. But, God was more than sufficient to get Paul through the many struggles, the imprisonment, the rejection, and the difficult travel.
To further understand that verse, let’s put it in perspective. Paul describes a health problem he had that he asked God to remove. Here is the response:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul further encourages us that Christ can sustain us through all of the highs and lows.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
We try and try to do it all ourselves. And, have you noticed how that doesn’t work?
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,
So, as you work through this complex time as the meat in the sandwich, remember the source of your strength. No, you can’t do it alone. So remember, you are NEVER in this alone.
Psalm 73:23 ESV
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
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