Stuck in the Middle

Stress Busters for Sandwich Generation Moms

Mothers in the “sandwich generation,” who are simultaneously caring for children and aging parents, feel extra stress in their daily lives, according to the American Psychological Association. This stress can impact their relationships with their spouse and children, emotional wellbeing and health.

Caring for children is stressful enough, but dual caregiving can result in extra duties, increased financial burdens, and feeling torn between caring for the children and an elderly parent.

A 2008 study of social workers reported that the majority of mothers in the sandwich generation are not prepared for all of the responsibilities that accompany caring for children and an elderly family member simultaneously. Also, many sandwich moms were unaware of resources that are available to help them with their daily caregiving roles. You are not alone if you’re exhausted from being “sandwiched.” Here are some ways to reduce the stress.

Breathe. Take time to relax and step back. Schedule downtime. Determine what priorities really need to be handled, and let other stuff go.

Get physical. A regular exercise routine can help reduce stress.

Say “yes” to help. And don’t forget to ask for it! Reach out to siblings, church members, friends and social workers.

Develop a care plan. Include your parent or elderly family member in the planning for their care goals and priorities. Also get your children’s input, particularly if they must sacrifice time, activities or space due to your caregiving responsibilities.g

Identify outside resources. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for information on local caregiving services, which usually include home health, laundry services, food preparation and delivery, driving services and others.

Retain an elder care attorney. An attorney familiar with the laws, rights and benefits protecting the elderly can provide support and can assist in preparing for end-of-life care considerations.

Guard family relationships. Your relationships with your children and spouse can suffer if they feel they are being ignored. Moms can become
overwhelmed with guilt. Be sure to make
special time for your children and spouse.

If you are entering a sandwich situation, know where to get help and how to cope before family needs become overwhelming. 

Alexa Bigwarfe is a mom who shares the responsibility of caring for her father with her sisters.

Resources for Caregivers

Area Agencies on Aging (AAA): Find your local office.

Caregiver Media Group publishes Today’s Caregiver  and provides information, support and guidance for family and professional caregivers.

Caregivers Guide to Senior Care, from HomeHelpers.

Medicare pays for home healthcare under some circumstances. Learn more from the Medicare Rights Center.

Parenting Our Parents — An online hub to make meaningful connections with others caring for their aging

Categories: Mom Matters