What is the “Sandwich Generation?” Generally, it refers to adults who are caring for young children and for aging parents at the same time. But the definition has grown to include a broader range of “sandwiches,” including those adults who may be caring for additional generations, such as grandchildren, siblings, aunts/uncles, and grandparents. As lifespans have increased and people have delayed childbearing, the sandwich generation has become a much more common phenomenon. This can present unique challenges, as well as benefits.

What are the benefits of being a member of the sandwich generation?

Caring for a relative can offer a sense of “giving back” and expressing love and reciprocity for the care that was provided to you. It can strengthen bonds between and among generations and provide children with an opportunity to bond with an older generation.

What are the challenges of being a member of the sandwich generation?

Stress! Trying to simultaneously care for children and aging adults (and work) can stretch time and financial resources. If parents or grandparents (or adult children requiring assistance) don’t live locally, you may find yourself traveling to provide assistance, which can further strain finances and work commitments. Or you may find yourself struggling to get information about your relative’s situation and medical condition.

How can members of the sandwich generation manage all these challenges?

Take care of yourself. If you aren’t healthy, then no one benefits. Take time to use stress reduction techniques, such as exercise, meditation apps, yoga, or therapy. Get enough sleep and eat right. See your primary care doctor to keep up with routine care. Our Employee Assistance Program, Lyra Health, offers assistance to Local 4 employees and dependents with therapy, coaching, medication management, mindfulness resources, and more. Contact Lyra at 844-926-2482 or click on Lyra Health. Lyra also offers access to find dependent care through its Work and Life Solutions. Your full suite of benefits can be viewed on the Lyra website under “My Benefits.” For outpatient mental health counseling, you can also use your Blue Cross Blue Shield medical insurance with a $15 copayment. To find an in-network provider, log on to your MyBlue account MyBlue Healthcare Insurance Plan | Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (bluecrossma.org) or call 888-389-7764 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Stay connected to your friends and family. Social connections are important for our mental health and provide much needed outlets. You don’t have to see people in person to stay connected. Phone calls, texts, and social media messages can keep you linked with your support system.

Get help. This can mean asking for help from family members, friends, and neighbors. You don’t have to do it all alone. This can also mean finding outside help to assist with various aspects of caregiving. A good place to start is the Eldercare Locator Eldercare Locator (acl.gov), where you input your zip code to get a list of community resources in your area. AARP offers links to caregiver resources on this website: AARP Resources for Caregivers and their Families.