The Sandwich Generation and Regrets of the Dying

Over the weekend, I asked myself, “How did I get here?”. Where did time go? It flies. I had to visit my incredibly ill mother in hospital over the weekend, and it was so tough; completely awful. Over the past few years, in particular, seeing my parent’s health decline whilst bringing up a child has been a lot harder than I could ever imagine. I was sharing what was going on with a friend, trying not to cry, and she commented on how we are the “sandwich generation”. Today, I know how important kindness, courage and leadership have become in my life more than ever before.

The “sandwich generation” refers to individuals who are simultaneously caring for their aging parents and their children. This situation can be incredibly stressful and challenging. Here are some strategies to help cope:

Prioritise Self-Care

      • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mental health.

      • Healthy Diet: Eating nutritious food can provide the energy to manage multiple responsibilities.

      • Rest and Sleep: Ensure you get adequate sleep and take breaks to avoid burnout.

    Set Boundaries

        • Define Limits: Communicate your limits to both your parents and children.

        • Say No When Necessary: Recognizing your limits and not overextending yourself is essential.

      Seek Support

          • Support Groups: Join support groups for caregivers where you can share experiences and advice.

          • Professional Help: Consider counselling or therapy to manage stress and emotional challenges.

          • Family and Friends: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from other family members or friends.

        Plan and Organize

            • Create a Schedule: Use calendars or planners to manage your time effectively.

            • Delegate Tasks: Share responsibilities with siblings or other family members.

          Use Community Resources

              • Elder Care Services: Look into adult day care, meal delivery services, and respite care for your parents.

              • Child Care Services: Utilize after-school programs, daycare, or community activities for your children.

            Financial Planning

                • Budgeting: Keep a close eye on your finances and budget carefully.

                • Consult Financial Advisors: Get professional advice to manage expenses and plan for the future.

                  • Advance Directives: Ensure your parents have living wills and healthcare proxies.

                  • Medical Information: Keep a record of medical histories, medications, and doctors’ contact information for your parents.

                Communicate Effectively

                    • Open Conversations: Discuss expectations and needs honestly with your parents and children.

                    • Family Meetings: Regularly update everyone involved to keep communication clear and reduce misunderstandings.

                  Stay Informed

                      • Research: Stay updated on the best caregiving practices and the available resources.

                      • Education: Take advantage of workshops and training sessions on elder care and parenting.

                    Maintain Your Social Life

                        • Stay Connected: Make time for friends and social activities to avoid isolation.

                        • Hobbies and Interests: Engage in activities you enjoy to maintain a sense of self and relaxation.

                      Balancing these dual caregiving roles requires a lot of effort and adaptability. Remember that seeking help and taking time is important to maintain your well-being and effectively care for your loved ones. Also, please always be kind to yourself. Sonia x

                      Hugs to you if you are in the sandwich generation.

                      “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”
                      Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, documented the most common regrets of her dying patients in her book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” These insights provide valuable lessons for living a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Here are the five most common regrets:
                      I wish I’d had the courage to live true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

                      Many people regret not pursuing their dreams and aspirations, instead conforming to what others expected of them. The critical takeaway is to identify and follow your true passions and desires, making choices that align with your values and interests.

                      I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

                      Spending too much time on work at the expense of family and personal life was a common regret, especially among men. Balancing work with personal life and making time for family, friends, and leisure activities can lead to a more satisfying life.

                      I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

                      Suppressing emotions and bottling feelings often leads to resentment and unfulfilling relationships. Openly expressing feelings and communicating honestly can improve relationships and emotional well-being.

                      I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

                      Many regret losing contact with friends and not investing enough time in maintaining relationships. Prioritizing friendships and staying connected can provide emotional support and joy throughout life.

                      I wish that I had let myself be happier.

                      Many realised that happiness is a choice and regretted not allowing themselves to be happier. Letting go of fears, worries, and the need for control can lead to a more content and joyful life.

                      Tips to Avoid These Regrets

                      Pursue Your Passions: Identify what truly matters to you and take steps toward those goals, regardless of external expectations.
                      Work-life balance: Set boundaries at work and make time for personal interests and loved ones. I have started painting again and love it.
                      Express Yourself: Share your feelings honestly and openly with those around you.
                      Nurture Relationships: Make an effort to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, prioritising meaningful connections.
                      Choose Happiness: Focus on the joyous, practice gratitude, and allow yourself to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

                      Reflecting on these regrets can help you make conscious decisions to live a more authentic, balanced, and fulfilling life. I know I have been a lot more recently. You?
                      By Sonia McDonald, CEO of LeadershipHQ and Outstanding Leadership Awards, Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO, and Award-Winning Author.

                      Book Sonia today for your 2024 Event, Workshop or Conference!
                      For more than 30 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of Leadership, People and Culture. Through her experience, research, and passion for outstanding leadership, Sonia has realised what it takes to be an exceptional leader in team and culture. Sonia established the LeadershipHQ consulting business in 2008 and, in 2019, the Outstanding Leadership Awards. Recently, her latest platform, The Leadership Collective, has been taking the globe by storm!

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