An adult daughter from out of town calls after getting our number from her mom’s doctor’s office. Her dad has been taking care of her mom, a situation that is, understandably, no longer sustainable. Mom has early onset dementia and mild depression. Though having tried valiantly, Dad can no longer provide the help and care that his wife needs. Both he and his daughter know it. His own health, as often happens, has become severely compromised due to the demands of caregiving.
In another instance, an adult son inquires about his mom who lives on the east coast. He and his wife would like her to move to the Quad Cities. Mom has dementia, and he asks us to discuss their options and tour the appropriate communities with them. Son and daughter-in-law are both working professionals who have grappled with long-distance caregiving and now need help and guidance in transitioning Mom closer to their home.
As a final family example, an adult daughter is desperate to find the best senior living community for her mom, who has been living at home alone. Mom has had some falls of late, and the daughter is naturally worried; worried to the point of checking in on Mom at all hours of the day and night—literally, at ALL hours. This checking in and caregiving provided by the adult daughter had put substantial strain and pressure on her own marriage.
Oh yeah. One other thing: all of the adult children in the aforementioned examples are raising and/or providing support for their own children. Yep. Part of the proverbial Sandwich Generation.
Those of us in the industry know it well. Though some of the details have changed since it was reportedly first coined in 1981, its essence remains the same: adult children sandwiched between the needs of their parents and own children.
It’s an added dimension to the already challenging role of caregiver. The out of town daughter needs to get back to her family. The couple whose mom will be moving in from out of town needs to tour during the evening, having burned up all of their PTO trying to attend to the needs of Mom and their own family. Finally, the stressed out daughter is also trying to attend to the needs of her increasingly estranged husband, as well as the needs of her young children.
Even though it may not be a new phenomenon, we’ve been struck by the recent numbers of families who have contacted us who find themselves in this position. More importantly, the families seem to know or care little of the term and its history per se. They simply know they need help.
Given all of the information that is available in this day and age, it’s still amazing how alone and overwhelmed families in predicaments such as those described above feel. We see and hear it all the time. “I wish I would have known about your services sooner.”
The good news is help is available. By tapping into the right sources of support, the feelings of despair and anxiety dissipate as the best, most appropriate solutions for a family’s particular needs are found. Yes, we have seen happy outcomes all of these situations, and we encourage families to tap into the right community resources before their own situation enters a state of overwhelm.