Living in the Sandwich GenerationFinancial Wellness
What Is the Sandwich Generation?
The “Sandwich Generation” refers to individuals who are “sandwiched” between their children (young and adult children) and their aging parents. Frequently these individuals are put in a situation where they are emotionally and financially supporting both their children and their parents at the same time.
Sandwich Generation Demographics
This “Sandwich Generation” is becoming so common that the term was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It can typically be defined:
- Adults, usually in their 40s and 50s, who are simultaneously providing support to their own children and their aging parents. This rising demographic already accounts for about 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s.
- Adults, usually in their 50s and 60s, who are providing support for their own adult children, possibly grandchildren, and their own aging parents.
- Financial responsibilities including medical costs, daily costs of living, legal costs, homecare costs, and costs associated with care facilities and providers.
- Burnout due to lack of time for spouses, difficulty managing work priorities, and constant stress of being pulled in many different directions on a daily basis.
Tips To Reduce Stress when Caregiving for Multiple Generations
1. Get Everyone Involved
There are only so many hours in a day, so it is critical to delegate as much as possible when caregiving for multiple generations. Consider what daily chores and tasks your aging parents and children can assist with. This will allow you to focus on what your children and parents cannot do.
Assign your kids simple things like washing and drying dishes or taking out the trash. Involve your children in pet care duties. If you have older children who have their driver’s license, have them run errands, go grocery shopping, or help shuttle younger siblings to activities.
Perhaps your aging parents can cook a meal, prepare lunch, help get the kids out the door in the morning, or even help with gardening or yard work. Maybe they can jump in to help the kids with their homework. You might get some pushback, but the reality is that you cannot do everything on your own, day after day.
2. Consider a New Location
Living in a pedestrian-friendly community will ensure a variety of amenities and services are within a relatively short distance. This can include shops, restaurants, schools, parks, and other public spaces, as well as public transportation options.
A park that your parents can visit or a small grocery store that someone could walk to for last-minute items could drastically reduce stress. A walkable community can help both older and younger generations have a sense of independence, as well as reduce the need for you to chauffeur the family around.
3. Reach Out to Adult Siblings
Sometimes, due to personality differences or logistics, one sibling ends up carrying the full weight of caring for their parents. If your siblings live out of state, encourage them to visit regularly so they can help and see their parents. Siblings who live far away can help by managing the parents’ finances and prepare their tax returns. They can also take your parents for an extended visit, giving you a much-needed break.
4. Community Support Services
Be sure to use all the services your community offers. Many communities have access to memory care centers, YMCAs, local recreation places, or classes that are tailored to senior citizens. . If your parents are interested, you should consider involving them in local volunteer opportunities.
There might also be services at your place of worship that your parents could become involved in. Keeping them active will support their health, quality of life and will free up some of your time.
5. If You Can, Hire Help
Sustaining the care of multiple generations is not easy. You may find that you want extra help at certain times of the year. There are services to help with both your children and for your parents.
You may be able to hire a high school student in the area to act as a Mother’s Helper a few hours a week. Consider how helpful it could be to have a cleaning service do light cleaning a couple of times a month. There are a variety of options available to order groceries online and have them delivered. The important thing to note is that it all does not have to be on you.
6. Seek Support from Your Workplace
Support for caregivers in the workplace can include a range of policies, benefits, and services that provide flexibility, financial support, direct services, and education and resources, including but not limited to the examples below:
- Flexible work schedules
- Part-time work
- Job sharing
- Leave policies
- Subsidies for care
- Flexible spending accounts
- Insurance programs
- Discount programs
- On-site care
- Respite care
- Employee assistance program
Education & Resources:
- Support groups
- Employee resource groups
7. Take Care of Yourself
Time is not a luxury many caregivers have, but it is important to give yourself a break, even if it’s a small one. Be patient with yourself and know that at times you might feel overwhelmed. Carve out some time to go on a short walk in the morning, take a yoga class or have coffee with a friend. It’s important to decompress. If you don’t take care of yourself then you will not be able to care for your loved ones.
Did You Know?
- Workplace supports for caregivers can reduce absenteeism, improve performance, and help retain valuable employees.
- In recent decades, the proportion of men who are family caregivers has nearly doubled. It is critical for coworkers and supervisors to create inclusive work environments that offer support to all caregivers.
- More than one in six American workers are caregivers.
- 60% of working caregivers report that they have made some work-related adjustments as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
- Nearly half of middle-aged adults have a parent 65 or older and are also caring for or financially supporting a child.
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