OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Nearly half of Americans in their 40s and 50s have both a parent age 65 or older and a child. These middle-aged couples often find themselves sandwiched in the middle, caring for both their kids and their elder parents, financially and physically.
If you fall into this category, you're not alone. It's called "The
Sandwich Generation" and it's playing out in homes all around the
Dinner at the Belz family home in Olympia ends with a little treat
and a cup of coffee. Trish Belz and her husband Aaron are both
psychologists living in Olympia. They have two children, a 5th grader
and a high school freshman.
But of all the plates at the dining table, the fullest by far belongs
to Trish. She’s caring for her kids and also her mom and dad, John and
Maureen. “This is my parenting time,” said Trish. “I want to give my
kids this time yet it’s completely pulled also towards my parents.”
Trish is not alone. Middle-aged Americans often find themselves
sandwiched in the middle, caring for both their kids and their parents,
financially and physically.
Maureen and Jack have been married for 54 years. They don’t drive
home after dinner with their daughter and grandchildren. They walk,
across a gravel road. With concerns for their health and safety, Trish
and Aaron build a home for her parents two years ago, just across the
street from their own house. This makes it easier for Trish to care for
her parents on a daily basis.
For the older generation relinquishing authority and independence to
their adult children can be rough. Jack admits it’s been a transition.
“I don’t know if everyone can do that,” he said.
Psychologist Jill Gross works with sandwich generation clients. She
says the number one issue for caregivers is burnout. “You have all the
duties and responsibilities associated with parenting,” said Gross. And
then you add to that if the elderly person you’re providing care for
lives in your area often there are doctor’s appointments prescriptions
to fill sometimes meals to prepare.”
The Belz family faces an additional hurdle. Maureen, age 81, has
Alzheimers. She now lives at a memory care facility nearby. “Its really
tough,” said Trish. “I’ve felt angry before and I’ve felt resentful.”
Trish picks her up most mornings so she can spend the day with her
husband and grandchildren. After cleaning the kitchen and helping her
kids with homework, Trish drives her mom back to the facility at night.
Gross says caregivers need to make self-care a top priority. She
encourages the older generation to start discussions about how they want
to live out their days. “The best gift you can give to your adult
children is to be the one to bring it up and talk about your values and
goals,” Gross said.
Gross encourages adult children to connect with other people in the
middle of that sandwich, and to find ways to share caregiving and
parenting responsibilities, whether it’s a helpful friend or a spouse.
Despite the juggling her time between her parents, her job, her
husband and kids, Trish says she’s happy for the wonderful quality time
she and her kids get with her parents. Her father Jack is grateful that
he continues to be able to spend his days with his wife Maureen.
Full Article & Source:
‘The Sandwich Generation’: Caring for an elder parent and adult child at same time