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Published: October, 2010; Vol 7, Num 5

 

Managing
Sandwich
Generation
Stress

“Baby Boomers” have a new nickname: “Sandwich Generation.” Many of these 78 million individuals born between 1946 and 1964 are trading their signature freewheeling ways for the costly care-giving responsibilities of both their children and their parents. The family spectrum has them sandwiched, and they are struggling against its squeeze.

People are living longer, but they are not necessarily healthier. By age 75, two to three chronic medical conditions are normal. Seniors are high users of health care services that they often cannot afford on their own. Many need help managing daily tasks like bill paying and home maintenance. They turn to their middle-aged offspring, many of whom are struggling in the faltering economy.

Meanwhile, the weak job market has led more adult children of Boomers to remain dependent. Fifty-seven percent of today’s parents with adult children continue to provide some financial assistance.

The workplace finds one in every four employees caring for two generations. Output suffers. Stress-related absenteeism and presenteeism (you are at work, but you are not as productive) costs businesses $13 to $17 billion a year.

If you belong to the sandwich generation, here’s some guidance and help.

Signs of Stress

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Easily irritated or angered
  • Constantly worried
  • Often feeling sad
  • Frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs

Reduce Stress

  • Ask for help from friends and other family members.
  • Access your member assistance program (MAP).
  • Say "no" to additional requests that are tiring or too time-consuming.
  • Set realistic goals and break large tasks into smaller steps that can be done one at a time.
  • Join a support group.
  • Make time for yourself each week.
  • Exercise, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, be aware of your alcohol intake, avoid misuse of your prescription medication, keep your sense of humor and don’t feel guilty.

These websites offer information and support for caregivers:

The LHSFNA’s Nutrition and Fitness for Laborers program, available through the online catalogue

Family Caregiver Alliance

Helpguide.org

National Family Caregivers Association

[Janet Lubman Rathner]