According to Merriam- Webster Dictionary, middle age is defined as the ages from about 45-64. There is some variation and some people believe it starts at age 36. That is fairly accurate because as of 2019, the average life expectancy was 72.6 years. For me, due to life circumstances, I felt that my youth ended at 35.
One reason that I felt that it was important to blog about middle age is my own life story. In our mid-thirties, my husband and I became a genuine part of “the sandwich generation.” I was an only child and in one day, our lives completely changed. My parents suddenly required caregiving after my mother had a severe stroke and could not sit up or talk. We then also realized that my father had been declining physically and had the onset of dementia. Since my husband and I met and married in our late twenties, we had only become parents of our dear daughter eight months previously. We later had our precious son, but by then, we were definitely sandwiched in by life, looking after the young and the old. Our decision to marry and have children was ours, but our challenge to give care was something we didn’t think we would have to do when our babies were still in diapers. Most parents help their adult children with the grandchildren; now mine were not able to even help themselves. For almost thirteen years, we looked after my parents, concurrent with our two children’s early years and growing up.
For us, many responsibilities were smashed together at one time, and some life plans that needed time and thought to work out were decided with haste because we didn’t have the margin. These situations come to every family and we honestly didn’t regret working through them, even though they caused other challenges, later. No matter what stage of middle age you are, it is always good to stop and assess your goals and potential problems and the resources you might need to work them out, including time, money, or support and try to plan ahead.
Some of the questions that should be asked:
What do I want to accomplish? What am I planning for? What are the family constructs that support our goals?
How am I planning for the future? My children’s education? Retirement? Chronic illness?
Who is my support network (really?) Family or friends? Religious community?
Evaluating the situation helps you to avoid stress and allows you to spend your emotional capital in the best way. Plans sometimes do change, like ours. Forethought enables some quality of life and control.
#middleage #planning #caregiving #responsibilities #future #support #sandwichgeneration