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The Sandwich Generation: Managing Stress While Caring For Others

09/16/2021 | 01:22am

Every generation has their challenges, but for one particular pool of adults, navigating the ups and downs of daily life comes with a unique set of stressors. Meet the so-called 'sandwich generation,' aka adults in their 40s and 50s who are simultaneously caring for aging parents and either raising young children or financially supporting grown children. Nearly half of adults in this age group are juggling all these obligations, and the multitude of responsibilities can come with a lot of mental and physical health implications. Adult children at any age can also find themselves struggling to find a balance in caring for their parents, children, and themselves.

'The sandwich generation faces mental health challenges caused by the emotional, financial, and even physical toll of raising children while also caring for parents or elders who may have limited (or no) independence,' explains James Lyda, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist on One Medical's Mindset Virtual Mental Health Team. 'These individuals may find it difficult, or even impossible, to find enough time in the day to meet the demands of children, parents, work, and other life tasks. This may leave little time for the things we know contribute to maintaining mental health such as exercise, healthy eating, rest, sleep, quality time with a partner, and social life.'

Lyda points out that finances can also be a significant source of stress and anxiety for these individuals, as they face the cost of providing for children and their parents.

'Members of the sandwich generation often face caregiver burnout, depression from feeling stagnant and isolated in their role as a caregiver, and anxiety as they try to balance multiple roles at once which range from being a caregiver, parent, and for many sandwich generation members, an employee - especially as many have become remote workers during the pandemic,' says One Medical Mindset Virtual Therapist, Laura Koziej, MA, LCPC. 'Any kind of self-care or rest is often on the backburner as they spend most of their time focusing on caring for those around them and feel they cannot allot any time to themselves, and if they do, there is a sense of guilt. Many times, the lack of self-care and rest have significant physical consequences such as a weaker immune system, strain on the heart, and obesity due to not having the energy to exercise and eat healthy meals.'

'The sandwich generation may also feel alone, isolated, and overwhelmed,' Lyda adds. 'These conditions can lead to burnout, and left unchecked can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health conditions.'

Anyone who is simultaneously caring for children and aging parents may be at risk for these very real health and happiness hazards, but some individuals may face additional obstacles. 'If the relationship between an adult child and their parent(s) has been strained because of past dysfunction, or abuse, caring for a parent can be triggering,' Lyda says. 'This creates the challenging situation where one tries to reconcile their upbringing and relationship with their parent(s), while learning to be a parent to their own children. For some, this can surface or resurface strong emotions and even trauma.'

If you or someone you know is caring for both parents and children and struggling to stay balanced, consider following these four self-care tips from One Medical's mental health professionals James Lyda and Laura Koziej:


1Life Healthcare Inc. published this content on 15 September 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 16 September 2021 05:21:09 UTC.

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