As reported in AARP Public Policy Institute fact sheet; “Nearly one in four (22 percent) middle aged and older workers (ages 45 to 64) — typically caring for a parent—report being family caregivers: the largest of any age group in the labor force.” This responsibility puts definite strains on personal relationships; caring for children/teenagers and spouse, holding down a job, while trying to maintaining a social life. This life stage is titled the Sandwich Generation!
Symptoms of relationship strain can be subtle, or not, and we may not notice until we find ourselves feeling very alone and isolated. Friends stop calling because we have no time for what seems idle chit-chat; we are too tired or busy for lunch or coffee, and our friends do not want to listen to our caregiver problems.
The children don’t ask questions or tell you what happened in school because they feel you are no longer interested. Spouses try to pick up the slack, but it isn’t the same as having you both involved in their life. Being a supportive, understanding spouse is hard because they are feeling neglected too. Home is not the same with no clear time line when things will be normal again. Everyone is pulling back and you feel lonely.
Work is a struggle, you are physically there, most of the time, but mentally and emotionally you are having a hard time focusing and keeping up with routine daily activities. Your manager is trying to be as sympathetic as possible but at times it is difficult to overlook things; such as: time spent on the phone talking about your caregiver responsibilities, being called away for emergencies or taking time off for medical appointments.
The tension palpable when you are together with your siblings. They might feel you are hogging the responsibility and do not want to share the caregiver responsibility. While you feel they are allowing you to take on all the responsibility and not offering their help.
Whatever the relationship everyone is suffering. With so many different emotions and feelings going on it is difficult to cope. Something needs to change.
Create a plan before you become a member of the Sandwich Generation! Why?
- To avoid life strains that develop with relationships when caring for parents.
- Everyone knows, understands, and agrees how things are going to be handled.
- The future is tomorrow and changes happen in life without warning so the time to plan is now!
Have the conversations and develop a plan for the future so every family member will be making informed decisions when the future hits you in the face.