Helping Sandwich Generation Caregivers Manage Back to School Stressors

Dr. Macie Smith discusses ways to help sandwich generation caregivers manage back to school stress.

I don’t know about you, but summer never seems to last as long as I’d like. And that is especially true for Sandwich Generation family caregivers who are enjoying the much-needed break from busy school schedules. But what happens when school starts up again? It may be time to ask for some help.

What is the Sandwich Generation?

  • Adults who are caring for a parent aged 65 or older or an adult with a disability and are raising at least one child younger than 18.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, about a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) are now part of the sandwich generation.
  • More than half (54%) of adults in their 40s are caring for both their children and their parents, with more than a third (36%) of adults in their 50s in the same boat.
  • More than 10,000 people turn 65 every day.

What about the start of the school year is particularly stressful for sandwich generation caregivers?

Members of the sandwich generation will be faced with a significant sudden change to their normal schedules. Now, on top of their normal workload they have to worry about things like:

  • Rides to school
  • Sports or extracurricular schedules
  • Helping with homework
  • Helping kids acclimate to a new school routine and new teachers
  • Supporting their children’s social insecurities
  • Working around doctor appointments and other commitments for older loved ones
  • Deciding when/if to include aging loved ones with mobility issues in attending games or concerts
  • Becoming overwhelmed by the constant pressures to take care of your extended family

How can members of the sandwich generation alleviate some of the stressors associated with being back to school?

It’s so important to protect yourself, to play offense so to speak, so you don’t get overwhelmed by constant caregiving. Getting a break is so important for your own self-care. It’s not possible to do everything for everyone.

  • Delegate tasks amongst your immediate family. Divvy up who can do what to put less on your plate. Start family group chats, calendars, and planners.
  • Identify your pain points. Are the responsibilities of getting everyone up in the morning tapping you out or is the after-school schedule your breaking point? Once you know where you need the most help, you can tap into the appropriate resources.
  • Ask for help from other parents from school or neighbors. Setting up rotations for carpooling or keeping an eye on younger kids gives you a break.
  • Utilize your community network. Find and use local resources to support your aging loved one’s needs. Most states have an Area Agency on Aging. You could also use resources such as Meals on Wheels, medicine delivery services, and transportation assistance for doctor appointments.
  • Seek out respite care options to help alleviate your responsibility of caring for an older loved one in addition to your own family. Getting a break can help slow everything down from a frantic mad dash to a manageable timetable. Whether it’s a few hours a day, a weekend night, or a week’s vacation, home care is the leading solution to respite care that helps older generations feel comfortable in their own familiar environment.

Remember, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help.

Dr. Macie P. Smith is a licensed gerontology social worker who is focused on helping families support their aging loved ones through long-term care. Specifically, Dr. Smith educates caregivers on how to care for seniors with dementia. She is an advocate for specialized care and assists others in finding a way to provide a better quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Smith has dedicated over 22 years of her life working in gerontology and assisting families in finding personalized solutions for dementia care. For more articles by Dr. Macie Smith, go to


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