Helping the Sandwich Generation survive the pandemic
The Sandwich Generation is made up of parents who are “sandwiched” between caring for their aging parents while raising their children. These caregivers have unique challenges and often stressful daily routines especially with the current pandemic restrictions. For some, this may mean making tough decisions such as choosing to help their child maneuver scholastic software or helping a parent attend a virtual doctor’s appointment. Scenarios such as this can be overwhelming, and while there are no easy answers, there are things parents can do to lessen the burden.
Multi-generational caregivers of parents living in the home would benefit from having a family meeting with the goal of sharing the responsibility of assisting children and grandparents with technology. Older children can schedule time with grandparents to help them connect virtually to relatives and friends, and younger children can show them how to use online games that can be educational and fun.
Help Grandparents and Children to Embrace Virtual Communication
When caretakers are responsible for parents living outside of the home, virtual communication is critical to the health and emotional well-being of these older adults in isolation during this pandemic. A smartphone will help make technology instruction much easier with Facetime and other visual apps, and are often the best option when younger children and teens are the instructors. Zoom and Skype are just two of the video communication choices that grandparents can use for medical appointments and family visits, and a simple email invite from the sender will connect them easily without much need for instruction.
Helping school-aged children struggling can be less frustrating with changes that are simple but essential. Having a designated personal, quiet space for virtual learning helps to reduce stress and minimize distractions. Taking time out each day for exercise will help kids stay motivated and focused, and maintaining an open line of communication with teachers helps parents monitor progress and address any learning issues.
Take Time Out for Self-Care
The Sandwich Generation caregiver may have to tackle many complicated priorities each day, and delegating tasks to other family members is just one way to relieve stress. Focusing time each day for self-care is essential to add balance, and can be as simple as walking, stretching, listening to music, or whatever serves as a healthy diversion. Outside resources that offer virtual adult enrichment programs and supervision can allow caregivers the time they need to restore their physical and mental health. Participating in a support group can offer connection and guidance, and help caregivers realize they are not alone.
This is a challenging time to be a Sandwich Generation caregiver, and now more than ever, it is critical to distribute the load among family members and take time each day to nurture the mind, body and soul that nurture others.
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Guest Author Hannah Parker is a social work student intern at Jenerations Health Education, Inc. for the 2020-2021 academic year. She will graduate from Salisbury University this spring and plans to attend graduate school.
FUN FACT: Hannah played basketball from the time she was five years old until her freshman year of college as a point guard. For the last several years she has coached boy’s and girl’s recreational basketball at the elementary and middle school level.