Radio Active #103: The Sandwich Generation

At 51, with a kid in college and another in high school, I’m firmly in the Sandwich Generation (and have been for years). These are the folks who find themselves caring for kids and providing support for their older parents. In this episode, I talk about my experiences and offer advice for others in a similar place.

Don’t worry though – it’s not all serious. I take a look at the recently-concluded RPG Blog Carnival event over at Lair of Secrets and geek out about the first of the ZineQuest zines arriving in my mailbox.

Nuketown News

The Sandwich Generation

  • Stories
  • Statistics
    • In 2018, 12% of American parents with children younger than 18 handled multigenerational caregiving. (Pew Research)
  • My experience
    • Circa 2014 – legal guardian for both of my grandparents (with my mom for my grandmother, with my sister for my grandfather) until they passed.
      • Navigated moving my grandfather into a care facility, selling his house to pay off the reverse mortgage, and frequent visits to the care facility to talk with him and deal with issues as they arose.
      • Executor for my grandfather’s estate when he passed away.
      • At that time, my kids were 11 and 8.
    • Circa 2020 through the current day – Helping my parents
      • I manage all of my dad’s doctor appointments, coordinate local care, and visit him to talk and deal with random problems (e.g. his phone stops working for some reason).
      • My kids are now 20 and 16 (almost 17). One’s in college, the other’s in high school.
      • Active in youth organizations (scoutmaster for the last 4 years) plus Seeing Eye Puppy Raising plus being married plus, oh yeah, a full-time job.
  • Impacts
    • You feel like you’re being pulled in every possible direction.
    • Whether it’s parents or kids, disruptions are the norm. It makes short-term and mid-term planning challenging.
    • Saps your motivation – once you’ve gotten through a day of work and helping everyone else, it’s hard to stay motivated to work on your own projects. Or do anything more than watch TV and have a beer.
  • Advice
    • Talk with friends or a support group: It can feel lonely, trapped in the middle, but you’d be surprised at how many people in a similar situation. Being able to vent is important; getting advice and suggestions is helpful too.
    • Document everything: I have an Apple Pages document with my dad’s doctor contact info (he has a bunch), upcoming medical appointments, and past medical appointments. I also have a Google Doc with my dad’s medical history (contributed by my mom). You don’t want to have to search for (or worse, remember) something when you’re on a call with the umpteenth medical provider. I use this doc to coordinate with my family, so they know what appointments are coming up, and who the doctors are.
    • Leverage digital access: Our local health networks have “My Chart”, which provides online access to patient information including doctor contact information, appointments, and test results.
    • Delegate: Hopefully, you don’t have to do it all. Delegate as much as possible (to siblings, other family members, spouses, etc.)
    • Take Time For Yourself: This is crucial – because disruptions are constant, it’s important to be able to get away – even for only an hour – and focus on yourself. It’s not selfish; it’s self-care.

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