I recently returned from a three week trip to China and had the chance to talk to some women about their Sandwich Generation concerns. I was particularly aware of the strong movement away from an agrarian society toward rapid urban growth. Our local “boomer” guides were proud of incorporating Western values into their lifestyle – with more demanding work schedules, higher cost of living and increased stress levels.
There, grandparents are well respected and taken care of – many living in the home of one of their sons and his family. And they play an intregal role in the family structure, often caring for their young grandchildren whose parents are working very long hours.
Yet these elders also nurture themselves – in the early morning hours at any local park, you can find any number of activities very well attended: tai chi, ballroom dancing, exercises, drumming, mahjong, walking, Chinese checkers.
I wonder, should we be adopting some of the ways that the Chinese treat the aging process? Is there a lesson in all this for us?