Prisha* is a mom of two teenage boys. Just a few months ago, indoor soccer, a new position in communications, and a side-hustle as a fitness trainer had her busy, but in a routine sort of way. She juggled everything with grace and even enjoyed the hustle and bustle of her daily life.
Her dad and step-mom, although in their 70s, were still active, travelling and enjoying life. “Life seemed to run itself,” says Prisha. “I felt busy, but I didn’t feel stressed.”
Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Schools closed, and for many weeks there was no plan for distance learning. Prisha added the role of homeschool teacher to her workload, which she admits has been a challenge. Her new job moved to the confines of her home, where, quite frankly, her partner has been little help. Her side-hustle was no more, as physical distancing meant she couldn’t work with clients. And her parents who are healthy and had been active before, now relied on her to be their access to the outside world.
Prisha may not have realized it, but she is an example of the so-called “Sandwich Generation,” a term used to describe adults who find themselves caring for both aging parents as well as their own children. Statistics Canada reports that in 2018 upwards of 700,000 Canadians were caring for their kids and parents, with 75% of the care being provided by those aged 45 to 64, and mainly women.1
The responsibility of maintaining the financial and physical well-being of several individuals can be highly stressful and emotionally draining during the best of times. If any part of Prisha’s situation is ringing true to you, it may be hard not to feel alone and overwhelmed. But there may be some things you can do to help reduce stress and practice self-care during this unprecedented time.
How does COVID-19 impact the Sandwich Generation?
“Suddenly adult caregivers have to face questions they may not have considered before,” says Heather Mountford, a Tax and Estate Planner with TD Wealth. “For some families, there can be tough questions around moving elderly parents out of long-term care, and perhaps into their own home. This may be an extremely anxious and stressful time.”
COVID-19 has presented additional challenges for a generation that can already be stretched thin at the best of times, adds Gina Di Giulio, Director of Mental Health for MedCan, a private healthcare clinic. “They are having to care for their parents and children with social distancing measures in place that make doing so more challenging. They are having to deal with novel situations that require additional time and attention to manage — time that is often hard to come by for this generation.”
Di Giulio says that having to add “teacher” to their role, manage their kids’ schoolwork and navigate how to do so via technology that isn’t always easy or doesn’t co-operate may bring additional stress. For those who also have jobs, it can mean having to manage their own workload and additional responsibilities at the same time, causing them to feel overburdened.
Women in particular may be feeling the brunt of it. “In about 70% of households, women tend to be the primary caregivers for elderly family members,” says Di Giulio. “Mothers also tend to put their own needs aside in favour of their children and aging parents, which greatly increases the likelihood that women in the sandwich generation will experience increased stress and anxiety.”
How can you relieve the stress?
Reducing that stress may not seem so straightforward. Conventional wisdom might suggest you take time for yourself, do things that you enjoy, and find a support network among friends and loved ones. Physical distancing measures makes that difficult.
The good news, says Di Giulio, is that there are still things that people can do to take care of themselves, and reduce their stress levels. “People can still do some of the things that they used to enjoy pre-COVID, but with some modifications given the current climate.” She says that one of the best ways to manage stress and practice self-care is to engage in physical exercise. “There are free workouts available online now for varying levels of fitness, that don’t require any equipment to complete,” she says. “Going outside for walks is still recommended and safe, so long as one adheres to social distancing recommendations.” Di Giulio also suggests maintaining a regular routine and sleep-wake cycle, and maintaining social connections through virtual video platforms.
How can we reduce anxiety about our loved-ones?
If you’re feeling unprepared and uncertain financially, that may also be a source of stress, says Mountford. Getting affairs in order to prepare for emergencies could offer some calm. Now may be the time for some conversations that have long been put off because they felt uncomfortable. “Being faced with our mortality, and the mortality of our loved ones, means that discussions should happen around estate planning, and end-of-life care,” says Mountford. “The discussion might be uncomfortable, but it can create more anxiety if you don’t talk about it.”
Mountford suggests speaking with parents to ensure they have done estate planning, and that their documents are up-to-date. “Hopefully they will share information about key players, such as the named executors and attorneys,” she says. “Find out whether they have powers of attorney and wills, where the documents are stored, and circulate copies of powers of attorney in case an emergency should arise where health or financial decisions will need to be made.”
It’s also important at this point to have open and honest conversations about end-of-life decisions. “Make sure any substitute decision makers know what wishes are in place. They are legally required to follow your wishes, whether written down or communicated verbally,” says Mountford.
Finally, Di Giulio says, “Seek out facts and calm people. Don’t allow social media to take up much of your energy and time. It’s full of misinformation and may fuel your anxiety. Most importantly, if you are feeling stressed, reach out to professionals who can help.”
*Name has been changed to respect subject’s privacy.
- Statistics Canada. Caregivers in Canada, 2018. January 8, 2020. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200108/dq200108a-eng.htm. Accessed April 20, 2020 ↩
DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein has been provided by TD Wealth and is for information purposes only. The information has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. Graphs and charts are used for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect future values or future performance of any investment. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual's objectives and risk tolerance.
TD Wealth represents the products and services offered by TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc., TD Wealth Private Banking (offered by The Toronto-Dominion Bank) and TD Wealth Private Trust (offered by The Canada Trust Company).
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
® The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.
MENTIONS JURIDIQUES : Les renseignements aux présentes ont été fournis par Gestion de patrimoine TD aux fins d’information seulement. Les renseignements proviennent de sources jugées fiables. Les graphiques et les tableaux sont utilisés à des fins d’illustration et ne reflètent pas des valeurs ou des rendements futurs. Ces renseignements ne fournissent pas de conseils financiers, juridiques, fiscaux ou de placement. Les stratégies fiscales, de placement ou de négociation devraient être étudiées en fonction des objectifs et de la tolérance au risque de chacun. Gestion de patrimoine TD représente les produits et services offerts par TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., Gestion privée TD Waterhouse Inc., Services bancaires privés, Gestion de patrimoine TD (offerts par La Banque Toronto-Dominion) et Services fiduciaires, Gestion de patrimoine TD (offerts par La Société Canada Trust). Toutes les marques de commerce appartiennent à leurs propriétaires respectifs.
ᴹᴰ Le logo TD et les autres marques de commerce sont la propriété de La Banque Toronto-Dominion.
免責聲明：本文內之陳述由道明財富 (TD Wealth) 提供，僅供資料說明之用。本文根據相信為可靠的資料匯編而成。圖表僅供解說之用，並不反映任何投資的未來 價值或未來回報。本文資料並不旨在提供財務、法律、稅務或投資建議，衡量個別投資、交易或稅務策略時，應考慮個別人士的目標和風險承受能力。道明財富、道明銀行 (The Toronto-Dominion Bank) 與其聯屬及相關實體對任何資料錯漏或導致的損失或傷害概不負責。道明財富是代表由道明宏達理財加拿大有限公司 (TD Waterhouse Canada Inc.)、道明宏達理財私人全權託管投資有限公司 (TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc.) 以及透過道明銀行提供之道明財富 私人銀行 (TD Wealth Private Banking) 和透過加拿大信託公司 (The Canada Trust Company) 提供之道明財富私人信託 (TD Wealth Private Trust) 所提供的 產品與服務。TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. － Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund。
® 道明 (TD) 標誌和其他商標是道明銀行的產權。
免责声明：本文内之陈述由道明财富 (TD Wealth) 提供，仅供资料说明之用。本文根据相信为可靠的资料汇编而成。图表仅供解说之用，并不反映任何投资的未来 价值或未来回报。本文资料并不旨在提供财务、法律、税务或投资建议，衡量个别投资、交易或税务策略时，应考虑个别人士的目标和风险承受能力。道明财富、道明 银行 (The Toronto-Dominion Bank) 与其联属机构及相关实体对本文中任何资料错漏或导致的损失或伤害概不负责。道明财富是代表由道明宏达理财加拿大有限公司 (TD Waterhouse Canada Inc.)、道明宏达理财私人全权托管投资有限公司 (TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc.)、以及透过道明银行提供之道明财富私人 银行 (TD Wealth Private Banking) 和透过加拿大信托公司 (The Canada Trust Company) 提供之道明财富私人信托 (TD Wealth Private Trust) 所提供的产品与 服务。TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. — Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund。
® 道明 (TD) 标志和其他商标是道明银行的产权。