How to Ease the Squeeze of Caregiver Stress
Caregivers who are squeezed between caring for their children and their elder parents or other family members are often referred to as the sandwich generation.
According to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 8 Americans ages 40-60 comprise this group, which is growing.
As parents age, adult children often assume more and more responsibility for them. But when this is not carefully orchestrated, aging parents may begin to think they need their children to help them manage their lives entirely, make all decisions and provide their main source of happiness.
These same adult children create a parallel problem if they make all the decisions for their own children and leave them without the psychological resources to think independently and make good decisions.
Clingy, emotionally needy children are often the result when parents greatly supervise.
Adults trying to successfully function in a role between their parents and their children must be wary of their own need for control. The need to always be in charge of the situation can create difficulties for the whole multigenerational triad.
At times the person who feels like the meat in the middle of the sandwich is faced with conflicting demands. When these inevitable situations arise, the adult children should try to realistically examine their priorities and feelings of responsibility.
After considering the overall needs of both the aging parents and children, they should make decisions about how to care for each in a guilt-free manner.
It can help to get assistance from family members and community support services and provide the loving encouragement of self-sufficiency.
Recognize that this period in life will not last indefinitely. Viewing this time as a stage of growth and development in the family’s life cycle can help.
A sense of humor in these potentially frustrating times goes a long way in helping to cope and adjust more effectively. Also, it is often helpful to talk to others who are going through or have gone through this stage of life. You often can learn from their solutions when facing similar problems.
Above all, don’t neglect your own needs. Set aside time to recharge your psychological batteries so you can deal more effectively with the needs of those who need your help.
This recuperative time can help ease the squeeze.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2011