The Sandwich Generation: Tips for Avoiding Being Spread Too Thin

Angela Brandt
Written by
Angela Brandt

On our multiple sclerosis journeys, we are all dealing with a heavy burden and finding ways to navigate through our diagnosis. You may also find yourself in the so-called “Sandwich Generation.“ Someone in this generation has children of their own to raise and care for but also find themselves financially supporting and caring for their aging parents.

Living with MS tends to mean the juggling of multiple specialists, appointments, and scans. Throwing in the care needs of another person can certainly feel daunting at times. I have now found myself as part of the Sandwich Generation; I am raising my young son who is going through the Autism Spectrum process, as well as caring for my father who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Heavy, right?

I‘m sure there are many people who are in worse situations than I am, but when circumstances like this pop up they can really throw you for a loop. It’s only human nature to want to care for the ones we love, but we also need to remember it’s important to care for ourselves. Stress induced pseudo relapses are common for me and when I forget to take care of myself I find myself reaching out to my neurologist, wondering why my arm is going numb.

To deal with this, I’ve established several helpful practices into my daily routine to not let the stress of dealing with my MS and caring for my son and father build up.

• Take it one day at a time. The start to each day used to mean dragging myself out of bed and overthinking all that the day ahead was going to bring. While it is important to stay organized and know what you or your loved one has going on, it is also important to clear your mind and recharge. I now get up each morning, stretch, and go for a jog.

Use technology to your advantage when scheduling your day, especially when scheduling for more than one person. If I forget about an appointment or am running late to something, I become extremely anxious and easily agitated. Make sure you do not double [or triple] book yourself and give yourself time to get between appointments. The entire tone to your day can be soured by running late so be proactive when scheduling, when possible.

Talk about what you have going on. I feel like this theme comes up no matter the topic I am writing about. Maybe you are like me and feel comfortable sharing your life on social media or maybe you don’t and prefer to share 1:1 with someone. It does not matter how you choose to share, just do so. Depression creeps up when you feel alone in what you are going through. No matter what it is, I can guarantee someone else has been in your shoes and can be a shoulder to lean on or provide a listening ear.

When your own care or caregiving responsibilities get to be too much, remember to take time to recharge and take care of yourself. Find a way to get away for a few hours and get a massage, go on a long walk, or take a nap. I am currently away on a girls’ weekend and do not feel guilty about it one bit. My children are happily spending time with their daddy and I was able to be on speakerphone for my dad’s oncology appointment.

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