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As I shared in the post “Am I Sandwiched?” a traditional Sandwich Generation is:

“those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.”

There is a great variety in the ages of the generation carrying for parents and children. The Council on Contemporary Families found people with elder and child care responsibilities to be:

  • 55 percent between 28 and 42 years old.
  • 38 percent between 43 and 61 years old.
  • 7 percent younger than 28.

The children in these Sandwich Generation families are:

  • 30 percent are under 6 years old,
  • 32 percent are between 6 and 12 years old.
  • 39 percent are between 13 and 17 years old.

These caregivers are dealing with concerns including:

  • Sharing time between family/children and the older loved one.
  • finding time for self-care, personal health.
  • finding time for personal relationships, personal interests.
  • Feeling of inadequacy in meeting everyone’s needs as well as guilt over what unable to do/provide.
  • finding ways to nurture positive relationships between the children and the older adults.

There are positives to being in a sandwich situation including:

  • to spend more time with both generations,
  • to nurture relationships between generations,
  • to support social interaction of the older adult,
  • to inform a child’s view on aging.

Music to assist in bridging the generations

Music can assist the sandwich situation. Here are just a couple ideas when older adults are able to verbally interact with the children.

Infant through toddler

Toddler through 6 years old

  • Children in this age group like action. Depending on the ability of the older adult, the person may lead actions songs participating in some or none of the actions. A few starter ideas are: “The Hokey Pokey”, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star“, “The Wheels on the Bus”, “Ring Around the Rosie“, “London Bridges”.
  • Children can sing songs for the older adults they are learning.
  • Imitative drumming with pots, pans, or containers can be shared.

6 through 12 years old

  • This age could play “Name that Sound”. Creating sounds or playing sound recordings can help develop listen skills.
  • Story songs could be shared. Think of familiar ones such as “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”, “Clementine”, “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” & “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight“.
  • Create stories that have songs inserted.  Make it a group effort. For example: Once upon a time there was a dog that liked to sing (insert a song title then sing a verse).
  • Rewrite song lyrics – for example “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” could get changed to “Ginny & Grandpa went on a trip, Ginny & Grandpa went on a trip. Oh they went to the ice cream store and had a triple dip cone. Ginny & Grandpa went on a trip.”

13 through 17 years old

  • This age group generally loved technology. How about having them find a song on YouTube that was a favorite of the older person. They can listen together and discuss memories tied to the song. Then the teen could share a song they enjoy that is on a similar topic.
  • If the student enjoys singing or plays an instrument, they could play a solo. If the older adult plays and instrument or sings, they could share it with the youth.
  • Music can be a great way to learn about history, geography, events, etc. The generations could work together to locate all the places named in “Faraway Places” or “Route 66”.

When an older adult is limited in abilities

When an older adult is limited in their abilities, the sharing will be more an activity for the child and the “sandwiched” person. 

Infant through toddler: “Do you remember when you used to sing _______ to me? I like sharing it with (child’s name).” Then share the song.

Toddler through age 6: Ask the child to sing a song for the adult. You can add when appropriate how it is similar or different from a song you sang with them.

 Ages 6 through 12: Have the child share songs they know encouraging them to sing those the older adult has heard such as those listed in the section above.

 Ages 13 – 17: Provide the child a list of songs the older adult knows. Have them create a YouTube playlist to share with them.

Theses are a few ideas to get you started. If you have other ways you use music with a “Traditional Sandwich” family, please share them in the comments below. Be sure and fill out the CAPTCHA.

Coming next week:

“Musical Ingredients for a Club Sandwich”