Dementia and the Sandwich Generation

Approximately 1.5 million people in Australia are ‘sandwich generation’ carers. This means caring for children and ageing parents at the same time. Some even have the additional generation of grandchildren they care for.

During the last year of my parents life (both with dementia), my youngest son was in his final year of high school with all the exam pressure that brings. My husband and I also had significant changes happening in our work life. As an only child, the responsibility for my parents fell on me, so juggling was a reality.

However, I was blessed to have a supportive husband and older, less dependent children. Some have to contend with young children or children with disabilities together with ageing parent/s with dementia, or all sorts of other difficult scenarios.

Here are some thoughts about what I found helpful during that season.

  • To remind myself of the seasons of life and this unsustainable season will pass – that winter passes into spring.
  • Spending a bit of time thinking about the most pressing and important priorities and prioritising according to importance not urgency. Some things seem urgent but can actually wait, where other things seem less urgent but are more important.
  • Prayer and faith was a great source of comfort and strength for me (see Faith Page).
  • Finding a source of “self-care” that did not take a lot of time but was most effective. This is individual – for me it was making sure I got into nature somewhere, somehow.
  • Reminding myself it will be worth it later to look back and know that relationally I did all I was able with the time available.
  • Being realistic about my capacity without putting pressure on myself to do more than I was able, given other parts of my life, ie. guarding myself from false guilt.
  • Allowing myself a bad day here and there and knowing it was just a bad day.
  • Having a good cry.
  • Chocolate đŸ™‚
  • Music – a member of this blog commented “singing (i.e. in a choir, soloist, alone, under the shower…) is a good way to throw away problems…and even just listening to music could be sufficient!” I concur with this – I would listen to music all the way to and from visiting my parents and found it very beneficial. 

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