The "sandwich generation" is traditionally defined as those who have a living parent and are either raising a child under age 18 or supporting an adult child. But you can broaden that definition for caregivers as well, all of whom are sandwiched between multiple responsibilities.
We care for many layers of our family and friends (parents, children, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, spouses, partners, neighbors, pets) while working, managing finances and households and caring for ourselves.
I am sandwiched between a very consuming job, a long-distance relationship, managing care for my dad, who has Alzheimer's disease and lives with me, handling our finances and keeping up my two properties.
My sister is a more traditional sandwich generation caregiver: She has two adult sons and recently moved to Arizona to help care for my father. We are both stretched thin and it's difficult for us to squeeze in time for self-care.
1. Protect your own identity. What is the unique combination of interests and skills that makes you "you"? Find ways to incorporate them in your life, even when caregiving.
2. Reprioritize. We may set daily, weekly and big-picture priorities, but with so many demands on our time, we have to be able to reprioritize as circumstances change.
3. Get organized. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much of ourselves to spread around. Consult a professional organizer for help.
4. Accept help. Get help with caregiving as well as with your own tasks — things like work, cleaning, shopping.
5. Keep filling your own tank. Consider a variety of ways to refill your energy tank so you can keep going.
Goyer, Amy. Five Tips for Sandwiched Caregivers. AARP, 2016.
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