I wish Sandwich Generation was a cute term for those of us who grew up eating sandwiches for lunch. Unfortunately, in this context, it’s a term defining a sandwich that some families have been forced to consume. It’s a life stage that can appear out of nowhere and brings bags of new responsibilities and adjustments.
Never heard of sandwich generations—well, you’re not alone.They’re created when adult children, typically in their 50s and 60s, find themselves sandwiched between their parents and their own kids and possibly caring for both. This is termed a traditional sandwich. It becomes a club sandwich when they’re caring for their children, their parents, and their grandparents. Any family member involved in general elder care is in an open-faced sandwich.
The reason for the increase in sandwich generations results from COVID. The loss of jobs, homes, and support systems brought generations together. Families pooled resources and shared caregiving which created sustainable networks. Today, multigenerational households are still a necessity, but they’re also a welcomed norm.
Unfortunately, some of you stuck in the sandwich generation may find it too challenging. It is not an easy transition. Imagine: You’re in the throes of middle age and thinking of retirement and life as an empty nester. Now, you have to care for your parents and possibly your adult kids if the pandemic sent them back home after college graduation or job loss, and possibly their kids too. Do your parents require home health care? And what about you…what do you need?
Despite the obvious challenges, sandwich generations have many positives: like the relationships formed between grandparents and grandchildren and the knowledge and history grandparents can share, not to mention the trusted childcare they may be able to provide.
Remember: These relationships do have their ups and downs, so they require continuous care and nurturing. Biggest tip: Respect each other’s boundaries! Manage caregiver burnout! Don’t interfere with parenting, at any level!
FYI: I’ll be holding a series of Positive Aging programs at Paseo Verde library in Henderson throughout October 2022. Visit hendersonlibraries.com/events to register.
Pat Landaker is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and owner of Living La Vida Senior. She serves on the ASA’s Innovation and Social Impact Council, the CSA’s Certification Council, the City of Henderson’s Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and she teaches Positive Aging at UNLV/OLLI. Contact her at [email protected].