Meet Me in the Middle: The Sandwich Generation

The term Sandwich Generation refers to individuals who serve as dual caretakers for their children under the age of 18 and their aging parents. The term refers to those who are “sandwiched” between two groups of people that depend on them for financial, physical, and emotional support.

What Do You Want From Me?

The Sandwich Generation carries the enormous responsibility of overseeing daily functions, financial matters, medical care, legal matters, and emotional support. Taking on a dual caretaking role can significantly impact finances, health, personal time, and professional development.

Being “sandwiched” is time-consuming and, at times, exhausting. It is common for caretakers to experience burnout or develop mental health problems like anxiety or depression. Therefore, it is critical to establish boundaries, engage in physical and emotional self-care, and regularly take time to recharge.

Overcoming Sandwich Generation Stress

Dual caretakers are highly susceptible to developing physical and emotional issues. Their responsibilities can put a strain on relationships, impact professional growth, drain finances, weaken the immune system, and overpower their ability to cope with stressors in healthy ways. Juggling multiple caretaker responsibilities is not easy, but there are ways to reduce stress and make the process more manageable:

  • Develop a feasible schedule and practice time management.
  • Foster open communication. Families can stay organized, informed, and unified by utilizing calendars or having regular family meetings.
  • Maintain physical health by exercising, eating regularly, practicing good sleep habits, and avoiding substance use.
  • Prioritize mental health by attending individual and family therapy, meditating, enjoying nature, interacting with non-family members, and taking regular breaks or time-outs.
  • It is impossible to handle everything, so ask for both help and support as often as needed. That help can come in the form of other family members, local activities for children and seniors, or government resources such as public health organizations or nutrition programs.

Dual caretaking is highly demanding, and individuals that find themselves in the Sandwich Generation have an important role to fulfill. However, caretakers cannot effectively perform their duties if they are suffering from poor physical and mental health. Valiant Living, located in Centennial, CO, is a treatment facility for men that suffer from mental health and substance use disorders. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use or mental illness and would like help, please contact us at (303) 952-5035 to learn more about our programs.