“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama
You might be wondering why I chose Strawberry Shortcake as this post’s cover art. I’ll explain by sharing a little bit of my family’s history…the artwork shown is an original watercolor painted by the artist who created Strawberry Shortcake in the 1970s for American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio. Her name is Fran and she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet in your life. About 28 years ago her daughter married my brother. The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree-my sister in law is ALSO one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. She is the subject for today’s post…
The Sandwich Generation
E is a card carrying member of the group of 40 and 50-somethings who are affectionately called The Sandwich Generation. The Sandwich Generation is defined as men and women who, in addition to looking after or caring for elderly parents, also have minor children still living at home. This description fits E to a “T” since my youngest niece is 17 and is a senior in high school. Quite honestly, there are some days when I don’t know how she does it. One recent day immediately comes to mind-her father was having some minor surgery, my mother (who, along with my father, lives with her, my brother and my niece) was having a procedure that led to the surgery I flew home for recently, her sister was also having a medical procedure done, and my niece was home sick. The perfect storm for a busy caregiver!
Needless to say, being a member of the Sandwich Generation is a recipe for a great deal of stress. While I’m glad I was able to help out a little bit during my recent trip home, it’s no substitute for the day to day work involved in caring for everyone who needs you. It’s sometimes hard for the caregiver to remember that they need to take time to care for themselves, as well.
If you know someone who is a Sandwich Generation caregiver, offer them a helping hand. They’ll let you know what they need-it might be nothing more than offering to drive their parent to the grocery store or a doctor appointment, or their child to school, the library, or an extra-curricular activity. It won’t take much time out of your day and it will give the caregiver living with all their responsibilities a much needed break.
Some resources for caregivers are linked below-there’s a lot out there to give you the help you need. If you are a Sandwich Generation caregiver, take advantage of what is available. Being stressed and overloaded adversely affects your own health. Your ability to effectively care for the family members who need you is also greatly diminished if you’re not caring for yourself first. You’ve heard the flight attendant instructions about putting the oxygen mask on your face first and then putting it on your children, right? There’s a very good reason for that, and the same logic applies here. Take care of yourself!
If you have a resource for a caregiver in need, please share in the comments. Hugs to all of you, and a special “thank you” to my brother and sister-in-law. You guys rock!
Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…