Imagine a generation of people standing in between two walls which keep closing in. Some get crushed and some survive. Nevertheless, the ones who have survived have very little life left in them. So, what exactly is “Sandwich generation?” They are a population of people and families who take care of both their parents and children at the same time. Hence, the term “Sandwich”. This phenomena of being pressured by both sides of the family to uphold the quality of life is not a new concept.
With every changing era, this component has been persistent. This generation is named aptly as they are effectively “Sandwiched” between the obligation to care for their aging parents who may be ill, unable to perform various tasks or in need of financial support and caring for their children who require financial, physical or mental support. This often occurs in cases of children who are mentally or physically disabled and parents who are also suffering diseases of the old age. This puts the caregiver party in a very deleterious situation. If the child has a congenital birth anomaly, then, their parents would have to take care of them from when they are infants and up until their death. Along with this, they might have to take care of their aging parents or maybe one parent who cannot live all alone by himself/herself. In many such cases, the top of the sandwich,i.e, the aging parents are neglected or dropped off at an old age center where they are visited by their children infrequently. This leads to depression, haggardness sets in and their will to live gradually dissipates.
What about the middle of the sandwich, where most of the savory part lies? Yes, the caregivers. The heroes, if you’d like but mostly they are just the “spot boys” of this film set. Could you imagine how exhausting and challenging their life would be? A day in their life would be a person’s normal day multiplied by ten. Incorporating work and caregiving is a very difficult task. These people undergo immense amounts of pressure so that they can keep both sides of their family both healthy and happy. This leads to utter displeasure and silent belligerence amongst them which just keeps piling on until one day they can’t take it anymore and they have to let go of one side of the family go. Many of these people are silently suffering from depression, anxiety, panic episodes and sometimes even borderline bipolar disorder.
Now, the question is- what is the solution to this problem? There is no generalized way of answering it because each and every family has subjective issues that need to be dealt with. The only right way of approaching this is to always, always, ask or seek for help. Help from a friend, extended family or any other medical/nursing facilities. There are many families which are successful, happy and fulfilled with all three generations living on the same page. “Sandwich generation” is not a term but a feeling. To be a part of this generation involves a lot of give and take, a lot of learning and years of experience. This feeling will always be very strong and hard to let go because one can never stop caring for their own family. It’s beautiful to see how far man can stretch himself to the breaking point just so that he can satisfy everyone’s needs except his own.
Written by- Zainab J.