From Dr. Jane's Notebook

The Longest Year: Jane returns to her post at the Post: The Sandwich

It’s a pleasure to return to my post at the Post after a year’s sabbatical. Many thanks to my readers for their feedback over the past few months!

As a Baby-Boomer, this year has been an interesting one for me. It’s a year when I  turned 50, my Mother turned 75 and my Daughter turned 25. This is a challenging time of life in which many of us feel responsible for family members both older and young than ourselves. While I consider this to be a position of great honor, it does put many of us right, smack dab in the middle. We are the sandwich generation…a state which I lovingly refer to as “smushed in the sandwich”.  

In 1986, renowned therapist and researcher, Jay Haley described the developmental stages of families in terms of the changes in attachment and separation between parents and children. From his perspective, our family sandwich might look something like this.

This is a time to anticipate, be sensitive, and pay attention to our parent’s needs, hopefully as they did for us while we were growing up.  If your folks live at a distance, begin scheduling regular visits with them throughout the year. While such occasions as family reunions are wonderful, these alone may not meet the needs of older parents. Be sensitive to the fact that crowds of relatives may be overwhelming to some older people. As your parents move on to old age and retirement, they may need time alone with you to express their feelings and communicate their needs.

A recent copy of the AARP magazine headlines an article entitled “60 is the new 30”. While this headline attempts to portray Baby Boomers as the new young (or not old) generation, there are certain physical realities which we must respect. Over time, we will become more vulnerable to health issues. We can’t run and we can’t hide from the realities of life, but we can anticipate change and plan ahead. Like maintaining a vintage automobile, it takes work to keep our bodies, our minds and our relationships in good condition...but oh, what a ride!

©Copyright, 2003, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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