The Sandwich Generation: Blessed or Cursed?

Adults who have aging parents and children of their own are often referred to as “The Sandwich Generation” because they spend lots of energy caring for their own parents while trying to raise the next generation. Sometimes it is difficult to find time for oneself, and nearly impossible to find time and energy to build and nourish a healthy relationship with a significant other. Members of the Sandwich Generation often find themselves so busy trying to fulfill the needs of their parents and children that they have little time, energy, or interest left for themselves. Is there any wonder why there is so much anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, high cholesterol, and other health related issues?

There are interventions that even the most stressed out individual can tap into, if there is an honest desire to balance one’s own mind, body and spirit. The truth is, it’s all in your attitude. Ever hear this? “We can’t change the wind – we can only change the direction of the sails.” It is very true. Consider diet, nutrition, exercise, supplements, and tap into your health provider for tips on how to renovate your rhythm so you can rejuvenate your life.

There are two main “bottom lines” each offering pointed wisdom.

Bottom Line #1

Nobody “has” time. Time is “manufactured” and only when absolutely necessary. You know this is true. How often have you felt as though you “don’t have time,” but then experienced a sudden crisis? What happened? Poof – a quick discovery: priorities facilitated the manufacturing of the time necessary to rise to the occasion. Reality: Priorities teach us about what is important to us.

Bottom Line #2

When, because of inability or plain old lack of interest, we fail to prioritize excellent nutrition and/or quality sleep, the fuel used to keep us going is further depleted, signaled by anxiety, heart palpitations, fatigue, bad moods, or depression, and the list goes on. These “signals” drive us deeper into the problem, rendering us nearly powerless to cope with the people who, and very issues that, mean most to us. Reality: When stressed, the body not only burns as fuel Vitamin C and Vitamin B (there are a whole bunch of these called “C-Complex” and “B-Complex”), but there is actual damage done to the heart muscle and the intestinal lining. To make matters worse, after age 50, the human body stops producing a very important nutrient designed to keep the heart healthy. And on top of that, certain medications strip away the small amount the body does manufacture. (I’m speaking here of the nutrient ubiquinol, the bioavailable form of CoQ10.)

Lessons and Remedies

How can we remedy the situation? Even if you are unfortunate enough to have your eldest child join a cult at the same time as your aging mother needs to be put into a nursing home, strongly objected to by her soul mate (your aging father), and then you or your spouse lose a job, there is hope. This happens to be an actual case study and this is what happened: the Sandwich Generation person who isn’t particularly religious but is a self-described “spiritual person” employed several interventions, among them taking a deep cleansing breath and counting blessings at the beginning of each new day, feeling gratitude and keeping perspective, making certain that each day at least one meal included 4 oz. of wild caught salmon, cutting way down on sugar, cutting out all flour (as well as high fructose corn syrup), incorporating a special “green powder” drink packed with nutrients including special organic herbs, and keeping notes on sleep, mood, and energy. This person worked closely with a trusted functional medicine provider and was also able to lose a few unwanted pounds along this journey. For your own recipe for success, do consult with your own primary healthcare provider, as your body is unique.

The lessons here revolve around making time for what is important in your life, owning all choices, and treating yourself (mind/body/spirit) with generosity. There might be a family without any issues, struggles, or personality conflicts – but I have never met one. So, even if your siblings are estranged (or you are the sibling who is choosing to not be part of the family you were raised by), you can achieve balance and a centered spirit. Add the nutrients your body needs, cut out those that harm you, and draw healthy boundaries permitting yourself time to yourself without fear, shame, guilt or apology. Doing so will make you more effective at giving the necessary care and attention to those you love and care about – including yourself.

Dr. Nancy Iankowitz is a board certified family nurse practitioner and Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC. She is also host of “Marcy’s World”on Pawling Public Radio. Email your questions to: For more information, call (917) 716-6802, or visit online.