The sandwich generation and caregiver stress. With people living longer, more and more of us are finding ourselves in the situation of caring for elderly relatives. With that comes the stress of managing our own lives (often with children) and our parents’ lives. People in the sandwich generation typically fall in the age range between 30s and 50s.
Living longer means more time with loved ones, but it can also mean more strain on finances and family resources in general. Advances in medicine and other factors have helped increase the life expectancy in the U.S. to an average of nearly 79 years. This can easily mean another five or ten years beyond that of previous generations in our own families.
Managing health care visits, medications, personal care, etc. for aging parents can be almost a full-time job. Add in dementia or Alzheimer’s, or a physical limitation that impacts mobility, and the stress factor is multiplied. It can become overwhelming at times.
According to a 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual, 62% of family caregivers are fatigued, 42% feel anxiety, 35% feel fear, 24% feel isolated, and 12% feel resentment. With this amount of pressure, it is imperative that caregivers seek some help. Fortunately, there is help available to relieve some of the pressure on family members. Home care agencies can provide caregivers to help with personal care needs, errands, medication reminders, meal preparation, and safety monitoring. This can be for as little as a few hours per week and up to 24-hour care when needed.
Family caregivers also need to focus on self-care. When we’re short on time and energy, one of the first things to give is our own physical health. Our typical workout routine gets interrupted. We eat poorly. And we sleep less. All of these things take a toll on us, making for an even more stressful situation. Outside help can allow us to bring that balance back into our lives and give us the energy needed to manage all of the challenges we face. It’s like oxygen masks on an airplane – we can best help others after we have first helped ourselves.
Check out the 2018 Northwestern Mutual C.A.R.E Study