Are you part of the “sandwich generation?” Do you have a living parent age 65 or older and are you raising a child under age 18 or supporting a grown child?
What is the sandwich generation? Carol Abaya, M.A., is nationally recognized as an expert on the sandwich generation, aging and elder/parent care issues. As a journalist, she has written about aging issues for more than 20 years. Her magazine, The Sandwich Generation®, was the first to talk about the challenges of elder/parent care. Abaya coined the following descriptions:
- Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
- Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s, sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren. OR those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
- Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.
This phenomenon of being a grown adult supporting your aging parent and your child can place you in a demanding situation. You potentially are providing the following for both your parent and your child:
- Financial support
- Emotional support
When You Are Part of the Sandwich Generation
As the caregiver, you are pulled in many directions. You have your own family. You may work full time or part time. Providing the physical care your senior parent needs can be draining and less than rewarding.
If you are providing financial support to an elderly parent and your child, and you are not in an upper income bracket, the costs can be high and not part of your budget. According to the 2013 Pew Research Center study, “Among all adults, 75% say they have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to an elderly parent who is in need.”
Not only do many provide care and financial support to their parents and their children, but nearly 40% of adults say both their grown children and their parents rely on them for emotional support. (pewsocialtrends.org) And according to Abaya, emotional care can be the most difficult part of caregiving.
Easing the Effects of the Sandwich Generation
Unfortunately, family caregivers must try to balance all of their responsibilities, and often that comes at their own expense.
In a Brain, Child magazine article, the author cites a study that found “Family caregivers, especially those who must balance jobs with unpaid caregiving, are likely to neglect themselves to the detriment of their health. Sleep deprivation, stress, depression, immune system deficiency, diabetes and hypertension are common.”
Below are a few recommendations for easing the effects of the sandwich generation:
- Don’t Drain Your Assets – Preserve your own savings. Your children can use student loans, scholarships and grants to pay for their college. Also, use your parents’ assets to finance their care for as long as possible.
- Realistic Retirement Planning – Consider the fact that you may have additional sandwich generation expenses as you near retirement age. An adult child may return home and/or you need to provide financial assistance to a parent.
- Communicate With Your Parents – Have open dialogue with your parents regarding their savings, their desires for aging in place, and other important issues.
- Consider Long-Term Care Insurance – For many in the sandwich generation, long-term care insurance for your parents, and yourself, may be a great option. There are many factors to consider: cost of the coverage, time frame, and benefits. Often professional in-home care providers and nursing homes accept insurance payments.
- Find Support – Ask for help. Enlist other family members, friends or neighbors to assist with your aging parent. Find a professional in-home caregiver to help a few days a week. Also, there are many technology solutions available that can help ensure your senior parent is safe when you are not there.
- Take Care of You – You are a better caregiver and parent when you are healthy and not emotionally drained. Find ways to revive yourself, whether it’s taking a day off, reading a book, or simply taking a nap. And financially speaking, don’t sacrifice your retirement savings. Keep your own budget in order to create margin so you can help a loved one in need.
Select Home Care Pasadena can help ease the burden of the sandwich generation. Our trained in-home care professionals can give family caregivers a few hours reprieve each week, provide daily care, or 24-hour care. We understand the importance of allowing your senior loved one to age in place. Please contact us today to discuss a care giving solution.