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Sandwich Generation Problems


My daughter tells me I do too much for my mother. She says I need to tell Grandma to sell the house and move into a retirement community. While Mother is in her 80’s, she is hesitant to move. She lives in her own home and is reasonably independent. I visit once a week to clean the house, help with a bath, and shop for groceries. It does take me a bit of time, and I am still working full time. Yes, sometimes it is a bit much, and I grow tired. Do I succumb to my daughter’s wishes, or do I stay the course with Mom?



This is not an easy topic to weigh in on.  You are being torn by two generations, and it is likely that both of them want something from you. The challenge is balancing your mother’s needs, your daughter’s needs, and your own needs. Yours is a perfect depiction of what society calls the “Sandwich Generation.” As easy as it is to get tied up in the emotions surrounding the situation, do your best to objectively look at the situation.

First and foremost, know that caring for your family is honorable. You are modeling what a strong, loving family does. Families have been caring for the elderly forever. There is no need to defend the one day per week you help your mother.

With that said, if that one day a week is wearing you down, or you find yourself complaining about it all the time, you may need to rethink the amount of time you are able to give. Also, consider that elderly are living much longer now than a few generations ago. Living into your 80s used to be rare, whereas today it seems quite normal. Therefore, if the level of care you are providing becomes too stressful or unmanageable, you should not feel guilty about exploring all possible options. You cannot expect yourself to maintain an unhealthy lifestyle for years on end. So you need to be realistic and, again, objective.

Another consideration is outsourcing some of the tasks you do during visits. Groceries can be shopped for online and delivered to your mother’s door. Cleaning can be done by someone else, either by family or paid service. Even bathing can be hired as a home care service. Your visit could be for incidentals or just to visit.  If it takes less time for you to coordinate the services than to do them yourself, it is usually a good idea to consider. I understand that doing it all yourself is an established pattern. You do need to look at it this way, however. Imagine what a new routine would feel like if it improved everyone’s situation?

So just remember it is not 1950 anymore. Think about it this way, are you willing to go back to a wringer washer, no microwave, days before cell phones? Most of us are not. It is okay for you to help your mother, but it is also okay for you to outsource some work to keep her independent and in her own home. Finding a healthy balance is the only way for you to manage long-term.


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