Are you looking into nursing homes for Grandma while waiting for Junior’s Little League game to start? Do you find yourself jumping in and out of meetings to answer phone calls about your child’s health, followed immediately by another one regarding your parent’s health? If so, you’re not alone. You’re one of the millions of adults in the Sandwich Generation.
Named for being “sandwiched” between caring for the old age needs of their parents and the childhood and adolescent needs of their children, the sandwich generation is typically composed of middle-aged adults who take on the caregiving burden for both parties. Some sandwiched adults are in high-stress situations where both parents and children are extremely high-needs, but most have some degree of flexibility in releasing some of the burden, taking on undue stress. Many in the Sandwich Generation feel overwhelmed with meeting their own social, financial, and emotional needs while also tending to everyone else’s. This can lead to caregiver fatigue and burnout, which can cause severe anxiety and depression.
Here are some tips to help prevent caregiver burnout and improve your quality of life as a member of the Sandwich Generation:
Life can be extremely competitive and you may want to maintain the illusion of having a perfect family and a low-stress life. If your reality is different, don’t judge yourself. Perfection is an illusion and many people are in your same situation. You’re doing your best to manage every day. It’s not easy!
Boundary-setting is good for everyone! It keeps everyone on the same page regarding what will or will not be tolerated. Boundaries operate on an if-then foundation, meaning that when you set them, you explain the situation and what consequences can be expected as a result. For example, if your mostly able-bodied parent calls you non-stop, you can set a boundary with them by explaining that you will not answer them during working hours, but that you will call them back after work. Follow through on the boundary and resist the temptation to jump to the assumption that everything is an emergency.
If you’ve become a bit on-edge lately or find yourself wanting to run away from home, you might be pretty stressed! Unchecked stress levels can be dangerous, and should be watched carefully. In addition to emotional distress and volatility, sustained high stress levels can lead to strokes, heart disease, and a number of other physical issues.
The best care is often preventative. Hang out with friends who don’t demand anything of you. Get into a spiritual practice. Go to therapy. Engage in activities that bring you satisfaction and relaxation for yourself to ensure your blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone, levels stay low.
If you’re part of the sandwich generation, experiencing caregiver burnout, or , we can help. At Valued Living Therapy, we offer in-person therapy sessions in the Twin Cities area and via telehealth throughout Minnesota. We are inclusive of all relationships, sexual orientations, and identities, and passionate about helping you make lasting change to live your best life.