The Sandwich Generation can find themselves having to make tough choices. When we have elderly parents and also young children, there’s the potential to face daunting challenges ahead. If, or when, our parents become frail and need attention, the time and energy to care for our growing children also must be found. How can we meet everyone’s needs, and still manage to take good care of ourselves? It isn’t easy, and many men and women are facing this situation on a daily basis.
I had a chance recently to have just a glimpse of this difficult dynamic. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about enjoying a visit with two of my sons and their families. What I didn’t write about then was that my almost 83 yr. old mom fell down and broke her arm just 3 days before my kids came. Since she was already frail, it was safest for her to recuperate in a convalescent hospital. She lives 4 hours away from me, and I felt I should go up there.
At the same time, it had been 2 yrs. since my oldest son and his family had been able to come to Santa Barbara, and I wanted and needed to be here. I felt pulled in both directions! I was lucky, because I have a brother and a sister who live near my mom and could watch out for her. I was able to delay my visit for the time that my kids were here. Many people don’t have similar options.
If you are part of the Sandwich Generation, it’s so important to get the support that you need. Being a caregiver for a frail, elderly parent (or parents), while you still have young, dependent children at home, can be incredibly stressful. There are resources to assist caregivers. Your local Area Agency on Aging can be a good source of information. Enlist friends and family for some much needed time away from all the responsibility. As always, remember that there are professionals who can guide you through the maze, and offer you support during the whole process. Take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to care for others — no matter how much you want to be there for them.
I’ve just returned this week from a visit with my mom, stepfather, and siblings, and this is very much on my mind and heart. Even though my children are grown, and I have grandchildren now, I got a glimpse of what it’s like when the needs of different generations come into conflict, and you can’t be in two places at once. It isn’t easy!
Until next time,