100 years apart

100 years apart

Conflict is part of most families and some disharmony can even be beneficial. The significant needs of the very young and elderly within a family however can cause an excessive amount of strain as the decision-makers in a family must delicately allocate their resources of time, money and attention. A “Sandwich Generation” caregiver is typically a woman in her mid-forties who has the ridiculously complex task of balancing the needs of her children, her aging parents,(and often her aging in-laws) all while completing the requirements of her jobs either inside or outside of the home.

I recently began working with a client who is a sandwich caregiver. She contacted us because her last family vacation was several years ago and she desperately wants to give everyone in her family a break. Her situation is unique in that 100 years (!) separate the oldest and youngest member of her family. We are currently working with her family trying to find the best way to meet all their diverse needs.

No matter what age, number or gender composition, many families are faced with the challenge of balancing the needs of each member. This problem has become more acute as life-span has increased over the past decades. There are few families- rich or poor, numerous in members or few- who have an easy time in balancing everyone’s needs. It is harder still to plan a family vacation to enhance quality of life.

This paragraph is often where the professional (me in this case:) provides the silver-bullet of advice or the nugget of wisdom that will help the reader immensely. Unfortunately, after working with dozens of families in the “sandwich” situation, I can only provide an observation. I have noticed that the most successful families are those in which each member has the opportunity to openly communicate their personal needs. While this communication does not replace hard work, difficult choices, or even guarantee harmony, I have found that families that communicate with clarity and equality are often happier and healthier than those that do not.

For our client trying to balance her “100 year family”, I have suggested allowing each member to communicate their preference as she, the decision-maker, tries to determine the “who, what, when, where and how” of their Assisted Vacation. While our team members can provide child-care, elder-care and every logistical detail of their holiday, we want to ensure that every member of their family has a fantastic vacation. It all begins with communication.

Best regards,

Thomas


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