Magazine article USA TODAY

Baby Boomers Give Way

Magazine article USA TODAY

Baby Boomers Give Way

Article excerpt

SOCIAL WORKER Dorothy Miller originally coined the term "sandwich generation" in 1981 to describe women in their 30s and 40s who were "sandwiched" between caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. The demographics have shifted since then, as many women are delaying childbearing and seniors are living longer. Because of these added variables, the "sandwich generation" definition has morphed along the way and tends to target both genders and the predominant age is 40-65.

According to a 2013 Pew research report, "Forty-seven percent of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child, and 15% of middle-aged adults are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child."

In 2005, the sandwich generation was largely made up of Baby Boomers. Today, the Boomers have started to age out of the sandwich generation and become the recipients of care from the new sandwich generation. Generation X now is the predominant demographic in the sandwich generation. In addition, Pew Research reports that 31% of Hispanic adults have a parent age 65 or older and a dependent child This compares with 24% of whites and 21% of blacks. Compound this data with the growing number of children/dependent adult children and seniors who require complex care related to increased autism and chronic disease diagnosis, respectively, and the stress on the sandwich generation becomes even more magnified.

Who cares for the sandwich generation? In many cases, no one cares for this group of caregivers, who usually has the added burden of working a full-time job. Self-care typically is neglected by the sandwich generation. Learning to integrate simple self-care tips into their daily routine will help caregivers to stay healthy--and a healthy caregiver provides a higher level of physical and emotional care to their loved ones. This is a gift that keeps on giving.

Be kind to yourself. Often we are kind to others while we push ourselves beyond our own limits. When dealing with caregiver stress, anger, or frustration, you first must care for yourself. Well-meaning friends and relatives often tell you to take care, but exactly how is that accomplished?--learn to ask for, and accept, help. It is important to identify your needs and acknowledge that you cannot do it alone.

This can be difficult. Make a list of people you know who would be willing to help. Help does not necessarily mean caregiving, but every task or chore that is removed from your full plate will give you a few more minutes of you time every day.

Take spontaneous and unplanned breaks. If your loved one is in the hospital and needs to have a test, give the nurse your cell number and go sit outside for 10 minutes. If caring for someone at home, consider the use of a wireless doorbell system to enable your loved one to call when needed. This allows the caregiver on duty the freedom to be in another room or go outside. A walk to the mailbox can be a mini vacation. Sun, and even rain, can be good for the soul. Exercise of any kind can help to release some of the frustration that caregivers experience.

Pack a caregiver bag of your own. Find an attractive cloth bag for essential personal items when you visit the hospital with your loved one. …

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