Unwilling member of the sandwich generation

From Wikipedia:

The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.

According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million.

Carol Abaya categorized the different scenarios involved in being a part of the sandwich generation.

  • Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
  • Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched  between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
  • Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.

My sister and I are unwilling members of “The Sandwich Generation”.  This is not our first time at bat here.  The first was when my father sick from a debilitating disease and he and my mother not accepting any request to assist and/or advice on how to better manage all his care.  With lots of home care that stressed and stretched their relationship and ours with them till it broke and he passed away in 2012.

Now it is my mother’s turn.  She recently turned 75 and as a widow for the last year and a half has become more stubborn and shall we say forgetful. Layer on top of that she just had surgery to correct Stenosis of her spine. One she seems to be having a lot of difficulty recovering from physically.  In addition during her time at rehab they noticed some changes in her cognitive abilities.  Something we were noticing being long distance through phone calls.

I am 50 and my sister 46.  My husband and I are raising our girls ages 8 and 6 years old and we live clear across the county.  My mother is not an easy woman and not one I get along with very well so you can see how stressful it will be for ALL of us to have to be part of her ongoing care whether living independently or in need of more.

This is reminiscent of my father’s last years, needing care and more than in-home but their denial that he needed that and the stress that home care brought with it.  Take that with her lack of recovery from her surgery and her forgetfulness and stubbornness and we are back to this place of her not wanting to do what she needs to do and our having to figure out how to help. And both of us, my sister and I, do not live close by which creates an even greater challenge as part of this sandwich generation!



5 thoughts on “Unwilling member of the sandwich generation

  1. I worry about this a lot, as my parents have no one close by to support them. I’m sorry things are so difficult for you and your sister, but I hope you can get your mom the care she needs!

  2. I’m glad I live within driving distance of my folks – but it’s not super convenient (5-6 hours). Thankfully they are both in relatively good health and doing well. But I also worry about my husband’s folks who live in TX. We are in NJ. Their health is not ideal. I feel for you and your sister!

  3. Lauren says:

    I can’t imagine how stressful this must be for you, especially having had to go through it previously with your father. I hope you can find your mom the care she needs and that you can get through with a minimum of stress for you and your family. big hugs!

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