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The Sandwich Generation – Handle With Care!

March 15, 2012

Sandwich Generation

If you fall into the “sandwich generation”, which is defined as those caring for both your minor children as well as your aging parents, you are challenged from many directions.  You are needed in ways you hadn’t anticipated, with both new and old demands, while perhaps still managing your household, your career and your marriage.  This can create physical, emotional and financial stress in ways you may not have anticipated.  Your children may still be at home, or may be returning home as young adults.  You may have decided to move your parent into your household or may be orchestrating her care from across the country.  Every family’s situation is unique, yet every caregiver has this in common:  the demands are unending.

In their Cluttered Nest Syndrome article, Sheri and Bob Stritof list as their number 1 “successful intergenerational household tip”, do whatever you need to do to keep yourself healthy.  This may mean different things for different people, but this should include physical, emotional and financial health.  Take time to eat well, take time for exercise, take “time out”, don’t extend yourself beyond your means.

According to Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression.   “On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 percent. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.”  She conducted a study that concluded practicing yoga each day can improve cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression for caregivers.

Whether you practice meditation and yoga, take time to read, make a date with your spouse or your friends, or whatever it means to take care of yourself, make sure it’s number 1 on your list!

 There are numerous resources available to assist you as well, and you shouldn’t feel guilty to ask for help.  In San Diego County, Aging and Independent Services  can connect you with legal, respite, care management, support groups and other services. 

 Take a few minutes to watch this lovely film, The Sandwich Generation – it portrays the love, the challenges, the benefits and drawbacks for all family members; you’re not alone, as more than 20 million of us are part of the sandwich generation.

Connecting Caregivers is a web-based support network you may also want to visit.

As always, please call Vista Hill SmartCare for additional support and resources: 760-788-9725.

Pamela Bryson, LCSW

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