Lupus and Caregiving: The Sandwich Generation

 sand·wich gen·er·a·tion

/ˈsanˌ(d)wiCH ˌjenəˈrāSHən/ -- noun: 
---As defined by Oxford Languages

Sandwich Generation: A generation of people, typically in their 30's and 40's, responsible for bringing up their own young children and for the care of their aging parents. 

Yup. That's me. Definitely a card-carrying member of the sandwich generation. Ever since 2018, when my dad (and mom) moved in with us so we could care for my dad after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I have been splitting duties as the mom of two and the primary caregiver of two elderly parents 

I've had help. My husband and my sister have been unbelievable, and her husband has been a huge support, too.  But caregiving is always a big task, and one that you can never fully get right. You're always juggling the needs of a few with the bandwidth for just a couple. 

My dad passed away in 2019, and my mom continued to live with us for more than 3 1/2 years. (She'd had a stroke in 2015 that left her with compromised mobility and cognitive impairment, and my dad had been her primary caregiver before he got sick. So that responsibility naturally fell to us.) Considering the lasting effects of the stroke plus my mom's multiple chronic conditions, we still had our hands full. Just this past November, my mom moved to an assisted living facility around the corner from our home. We all agreed it was time. So while my daily responsibilities aren't what they were, the caregiving for my mom (and obviously for my kids) continues. 

I think the varied contents of a typical Amazon cart explains my split duties:

Centrum Silver Vitamins and Kids Claritin

Ensure Meal Replacement - Pack of 24 and School Uniform Socks - Pack of 12

Depends Adult Briefs and Teen Period Panties (both for overnight delivery. 🤦🏻‍♀️)

Leg Orthodic Replacement AFO and LED Teen Light Strip Replacement Remote (Don't know what an AFO is?  Click here.). 

Senior Support Shower Chair and Teen M&M Halloween Costume 

I could list many more real-life combinations like these. And each time I check out, and remark on the spectrum of my cart, it's just a dose of comic relief. It can get challenging, balancing, for instance, the skin care needs of a teen with the incontinence issues of the elderly. But acknowledging that it is, in fact, a balancing act, and one that often requires a superpower, helps. When caretaking for both my mom and my kids, I'm bound to feel like something's slipping through the cracks.  But I also try to remember that if I miss a step, or if someone is getting less than my full attention, it's because someone else might need it more. My mom and my kids have always been forgiving when I forget to pick up a prescription or pack a snack.  I'll just work on continuing to be forgiving of myself. 


Popular Posts