Caught in the Middle | Collection Development

The sandwich generation, or “sandwichers,” whose plates are full to bursting with responsibility, are trying to do more with less time. Typically between ages 40 and 65, members of this group find themselves serving the distinct needs of two of relatives: aging parents and teen or adult children. Somewhere in the madness of accommodating the wishes of parents, children (and sometimes grandchildren), work, and other commitments, a degree of self-care must fall. Finding the time and energy to create balance is difficult, and resources that help manage the various demands can be lifelines.

Family realities

The realities of elder care are complicated and can be upsetting on a variety of fronts. The issues that must be juggled include finances, assistance with daily life and medical issues, pressures on time, and more. For caregivers to the elderly, these concerns combined with raising their own children or living with adult children who have returned to the nest or need assistance in other ways mean there is great risk of burnout or “compassion fatigue.” A way to combat this is to seek out practical information resources and support from those familiar with such circumstances. Stories from people who have lived through comparable trials may be of help, providing the “you are not alone” camaraderie members of the sandwich generation so palpably need.

Seeking total wellness

With double demands on time and energy, mental and physical health may suffer. Most people are capable of starting new activities and developing stronger, fitter bodies. The most valuable resources provide guidance and inspiration that are sensible without underestimating the capacities of their target audience. Balance, empowerment, and wellness—which are current trends in personal health and effectiveness and in finance and business—intersect in a manner that matches the needs of the sandwich generation. Developing communication skills and becoming a savvy consumer enhance the abilities of adults with parents on one side and children on the other to advocate for themselves as well as for those in their care. This kind of empowerment helps increase one’s grit and fortitude in difficult times, which in turn improves mental well-being.

Advice on personal organization and task management, too, can offer significant mental relief and personal reward. Added sources of anxiety may include the approach of retirement, especially in an unsettling economic climate. Practical and timely financial advice can assist the parents, the grandparents, and the adult children. With the increased interest in entrepreneurialism and postretirement work, the number of resources has risen. Traditional retirement has moved aside in favor of alternative work scenarios, particularly for those wishing to keep active and embrace new challenges. Materials on entrepreneurialism abound and take on the world of business in a lively and engaging manner.

A diverse collection

A wide variety of materials may be blended to create a collection targeted to the sandwich generation. A few issues should be kept in mind. First, the life circumstances of those in this group are diverse, as the family of a 45-year-old will look very different from that of a 60-year-old. Accordingly, resources that address multiple angles of a given topic will have broader appeal then those more narrowly focused.

Second, a resource’s staying power will depend greatly on the subject at hand; books with personal or spiritual insight or those that center more on memoir and storytelling will naturally have a longer shelf life than how-to guides. Resources that are particularly time sensitive are those that feature practical information on care programs, government funding and subsidies, and legal or financial matters. Aging a little less rapidly are health and business titles, although materials related to fads and trends require vigilance in discovering emerging research and new materials. Moreover, studies show that women are primarily responsible for elder care, and books on this topic will mostly appeal to that demographic; other resources, particularly on fitness and business, have equal appeal to both men and women.

Finally, titles that may appear to be targeted to or written by younger generations can be highly applicable and useful to those in-between age groups. The following list is based on the applicability of the information to the target audience. Starred (redstar) works are essential for most collections.

Being the Sandwich

redstarBertini, Kristine. Strength for the Sandwich Generation: Help To Thrive While Simultaneously Caring for Our Kids and Our Aging Parents. Praeger. 2011. 144p. ISBN 9781598843644. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9781598843651.

While at times heavy-handed, Bertini provides assistance with practical issues that range from looking after oneself to negotiating the complexities of parenting and elder care as well as advice on moral and ethical ­decision-making.

Callaway, Phil. Family Squeeze: Tales of Hope and Hilarity for a Sandwiched Generation. Multnomah. 2008. 208p. ISBN 9781590529164. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780307561503.

Callaway (Laugh and Learn, Inc.; Laughing Matters) here pokes gentle fun at the realities and frustrations of being sandwiched between generations.

Cunningham, Susan. Unwrapping the Sandwich Generation: Life Vignettes About Seniors and Their Adult Boomer Children. Morgan James. 2005. 227p. ISBN 9781933596006. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781933596007.

Ideal for the person looking for “just like me” stories. Cunningham includes narratives from the aging parent’s point of view to give readers an excellent shift in perspective.

Gurian, Michael. The Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty. Atria. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476706696. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476706719.

Gurian’s well-researched and deeply philosophical work provides a mentally and spiritually uplifting look at the realities of age and transformation. He also offers insight into physical and mental stress, the aging process, and spiritual growth.

Russell, Carol L. Sandwiched! Tales, Tips, and Tools To Balance Life in the Sandwich Generation. iUniverse. 2009. 359p. ISBN 9781440154829. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781440154836.

Special needs education expert Russell shares her family’s experience living as a blended unit alongside highly practicable advice related to life management when both child and elder care is a challenge.

Elder Care

Abraham, Ken. When Your Parent Becomes Your Child: A Journey of Faith Through My Mother’s Dementia. Thomas Nelson. 2012. 247p. ISBN 9780849947278. pap. $15.

Abraham tackles the very difficult subject of dementia through stories, real-life advice, and spiritual insight. His book will appeal to readers in need of emotional support.

Gross, Jane. A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves. Knopf. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9780307472403. $15.95; pap. $13.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307596680.

Gross provides biting and timely commentary on the availability of medical support and the quality of medical care for seniors. A challenging read that is also deeply insightful. (LJ 11/1/10)

redstarWickert, Kimberly M.C. & others. The Sandwich Generation’s Guide to Eldercare. Demos. 2013. ISBN 9781936303434. pap. $19.95.

This work is less emotionally grueling than other books on the topic, making it a superbly objective how-to guide on topics such as caregiver needs. The authors also shed light on the more confusing aspects of government benefits. (LJ 10/15/13)

YOUR Adult Children

Chapman, Gary D. & Ross Campbell. How To Really Love Your Adult Child: Building a Healthy Relationship in a Changing World. Chicago: Northfield. 2011. 192p. ISBN 9780802468512. pap. $14.99.

The creators of The 5 Love Languages provide valuable lessons on dealing with common issues faced by parents of adult children. Audiences may be split on the value of the spiritual bent of this book, but there is quality commentary on boomerang children, financial actions, dealing with your children’s significant others, and more.

Isay, Jane. Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Their Parents. Anchor. 2008. 240p. ISBN 9780767920858. pap. $15.95.

Primarily through anecdotes and stories from adult children and their parents, Isay’s work is a “you are not alone” title rather than a practical guide. A welcome companion to those wishing to know how other people have navigated thorny child-parent ­relationships. (LJ 2/15/07)

redstarParent, Gail & Susan Ende. How To Raise Your Adult Children: Because Big Kids Have Even Bigger Problems. Plume: NAL. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780452297203. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101457689.

Parent and Ende combine just the right amount of solid psychology and witty comedy, making this guide easy to digest.

Business & Finance

Collamer, Nancy. Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways To Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. Ten Speed. 2013. 263p. ISBN 9781607743828. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781607743835.

While most books on postretirement work focus on starting new businesses, ­Collamer’s volume covers a variety of options for people wanting to capitalize on their experience, including subcontracted work, flexible employment, and ­self-employment.

Guillebeau, Chris. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future. Crown Business. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780307951526. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780307951540.

World traveler, writer, and small business entrepreneur Guillebeau has taken the world of new entrepreneurialism by storm with highly personal ventures that capitalize on the information and lifestyle economy. Here he provides stories, inspiration, and tips for building your own business on a shoestring budget.

Izard, M.B. Boomerpreneurs: How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business, Make Money and Enjoy Life. Achieve Consulting. 2010. 286p. ISBN 9780972874830. pap. $25.95.

Izard’s friendly, handy personal business coach–in–a–book helps people in their 50s and older work through issues common to starting a new businesses. Aimed at those retired or nearing retirement.

Kaufman, Josh. The Personal MBA: A World-Class Business Education in a Single Volume. Portfolio: Penguin. 2010. 416p. ISBN 9781591843528. $27.95; pap. ISBN 9781591845577. $18.

While he is not a member of the sandwich generation, Kaufman gives those interested in building their own business a boost through this information-packed book. (LJ 12/10)

redstarOrman, Suze. The Money Class: How To Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve. Spiegel & Grau. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9781400069736. $26; pap. ISBN 9780812982138. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780679604709.

American financial guru Orman (9 Steps to Financial Freedom) gives readers a comprehensive guide to managing their personal finances with recommendations that are straightforward and tailored to America’s current economic climate.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. Riverhead. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9781594487156. $26.95; pap. ISBN 9781594631900. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101597071.

Pink’s exceptional work provides insight into how buyer and seller behavior, psychology, and culture intersect in consumer motivation. A crucial read for members of the sandwich generation wishing to become more empowered consumers and advocates.

effectiveness & productivity

Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Viking. 2001. 288p. ISBN 9780670899241. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9780142000281. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101128497.

This classic text will help those with their calendars loaded with responsibilities to juggle their engagements, pare down their to-do lists, and manage the stress of too many ­commitments.

Cialdini, Robert B. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. rev. ed. HarperBusiness. 2007. 336p. ISBN 9780061241895. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9780061899874.

Cialdini’s fascinating look into how opinions and behaviors are swayed by outside influence can help readers develop their own powers of persuasion. For all areas of life where influence is needed.

Doland, Erin R. Unclutter Your Life in One Week. Simon Spotlight Entertainment. 2010. 256p. ISBN 9781439150474. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781439154205.

Clutter is a major source of stress, frustration, and lost time. Doland looks at all aspects of organization, including dealing with paper and informational clutter, and provides a blow-by-blow road map to creating and maintaining an organized, clutter-free home. (LJ 11/15/09)

Kaufman, Josh. The First 20 Hours: How To Learn Anything…Fast. Portfolio. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781591845553. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101623046.

Learning new skills is a key component in keeping the mind sharp and engaged. Kaufman’s techniques for rapid skill acquisition will appeal to people feeling the pressure of time crunch.

Lowell, Christopher. Christopher Lowell’s Seven Layers of Organization: Unclutter Your Home, Unclutter Your Life. Clarkson Potter: Crown. 2005. 176p. ISBN 9781400082407. pap. $12.95.

Lowell’s approach to organization works on the psychological as well as the physical reasons behind our clutter. For those faced with the difficult work of organizing their own possessions and/or those of their parents, this thoughtful, step-by-step guide will help minimize stress and maximize effectiveness.

redstarPatterson, Kerry. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. 2d ed. McGraw-Hill. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780071775304. $30; pap. ISBN 9780071771320. $18.

Being an efficient advocate for the self and others depends on the ability to participate effectively in difficult and critical discussions. Readers will appreciate how Patterson’s techniques apply both to interpersonal relationships and when acting in the interests of another.

Health, Fitness, & Nutrition

Harrar, Sarí & Debra L. Gordon. Long Life Prescription: Fast and Easy Ways To Stay Energized and Healthy at Every Age. Reader’s Digest. 2009. 400p. ISBN 9781606520444. pap. $31.96.

In this comprehensive review of healthy living principles that range from nutrition and exercise to stress management, the authors provide a practical guide to changing habits.

Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Penguin. 2011. 240p. ISBN 978-1594203084. $23.95; pap. ISBN 9780143116387. $11; ebk. ISBN 9781101163160.

Multi-award-winning food writer Pollan packs a punch in this slim volume, providing readers with simple guidelines that will inform their diet. Those strapped for time, who want to eat more healthfully without the constraints of a complicated or unrealistic regime, will find this book essential.

Roll, Rich. Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself. Crown Archetype. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780307952196. $25; pap. ISBN 978-0307952202. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780307952219.

While occasionally disjointed with an ego-heavy narrative, Roll’s title presents a story of drastic physical change that will be inspiring for those wanting to reject the notion that health and athletic boundaries cannot be broken past middle age. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 3/22/13)

redstarSchuler, Lou & Alwyn Cosgrove. The New Rules of Lifting for Life: An All-New Muscle-Building, Fat-Blasting Plan for Men and Women Who Want To Ace Their Midlife Exams. Avery. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781583334614. $28; pap. ISBN 9781583335130. $18; ebk. ISBN 978110158067.

Schuler’s first-rate fitness book discusses how to approach strength-based training to improve health and fitness while avoiding injury. With information about diet, cooking, creating training programs, and more.

Lauren Sergy is Programs and Training Librarian with the Alberta Library. She has been working with libraries across Alberta since 2006, specializing in staff skill training and development, and is a frequent contributor at conferences and professional development events both in and outside the library field

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