“Sandwich Generation” A Household Phrase

It doesn’t matter into which generation you were born, if you live in the United States, you know that Baby Boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1964, whose contributions to society are too numerous to mention in a single blog post.

A sub-set of the Baby Boomer generation is the Sandwich Generation, the nearly 20 million Americans who care for both a parent and a child. And this group of folks has now gone “mainstream,” as an answer to a question on the long-running television game show, Jeopardy!, in mid-September.

While television programs and advertisements may represent Baby Boomers as a fun-loving set who enjoy retirement in new and inventive ways, the 65 million Americans (including the 20 million Sandwich Generation folks) who report being the primary caregiver for at least one elderly family member also have additional stress and health risks associated with their role.

According to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression rates are highest among Americans ages 45 to 64, which increases their risk for stress-related illnesses including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Further research indicates that depression occurs more often in women, and in individuals who care for a parent suffering from dementia.

The American Psychiatric Association recommends that all individuals recognize the warning signs of depression, including:

  • guilt
  • loss of energy
  • angry outbursts
  • loss of interest in activities or relationships
  • weight loss or gain
  • change in sleep habits, including too much sleep or difficulty falling/staying asleep
  • sadness that lasts for weeks at a time
  • thoughts about death or suicide

Because depression is common among Baby Boomers, and family caregivers in particular, mental health and medical professionals remind everyone that depression is not a figment of your imagination; it is a real medical condition that may require professional treatment including psychotherapy, medication and lifestyle changes.

Some lifestyle changes can easily be incorporated into your daily routine, including incorporating regular sleeping rituals and habits to combat sleep problems, increasing physical activity/exercise, eating a more balanced diet, and reducing stress.

Stress reduction comes from establishing boundaries, which includes asking for help and nurturing yourself and relationships with family and friends.

Senior care services exist so that family caregivers can take a well-deserved break without worry. And living in a Windsong community, where the majority of your neighbors share similar life-stage experiences, means plenty of caring individuals who are willing to lend an ear, offer advice, and perhaps serve as an “accountability partner” in the area of exercise and healthy eating.

While your generation may be an answer on Jeopardy!, that doesn’t mean your health and peace of mind have to be in jeopardy! Welcome home to Windsong – Where Life’s A Breeze!

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