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Trying to care for elderly parents while simultaneously raising your own children is enough to make anyone feel crazy. Moms like myself who are part of the sandwich generation are constantly being pulled in different directions, trying to be everything for everyone.
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Trying to care for elderly
parents while simultaneously raising your own children is enough to make anyone
feel crazy. Moms like myself who are part of the sandwich generation are
constantly being pulled in different directions, trying to be everything for
everyone, and it may feel as though you have way too much on your plates all
the time. At the same time, the strong multi-generational family relationships
that come from this type of relationship can’t be ignored. There are several
difficulties and rewards associated with being a member of the sandwich
generation, especially as your aging parents increasingly require more care.
What Is the Sandwich Generation?
The “sandwich” generation is the
generation that falls
in between aging parents and young children. They’re young professionals
who are still juggling many of the responsibilities of children at home and a
growing career, yet who are also responsible for the needs of aging parents.
Sandwiched in the middle of these two great needs, many people may feel as
though they’re juggling way too many responsibilities.
Why All the Sandwich Generation Awareness?
Aging baby boomers are creating
a larger sandwich generation than ever before. Suddenly, elderly
individuals are living longer. They’re able to experience an amazing quality of
life for many years into their retirement and live longer with health
challenges that would previously have cost their lives. As a result, the
sandwich generation is becoming more common—and it looks like it’s here to
Primary Issues of the Sandwich Generation
There are a variety of challenges
that I faced as a member of the sandwich generation. I was responsible for
fitting care for my aging parents into an already-full schedule, from making
sure that mom wasn’t leaving the stove on and burning the house down to
shuttling dad to his appointments and meetings. Feeling as though you’re giving
your own children enough time and attention is a constant challenge: it’s hard
to feel as though you’ve been there adequately for your kids when after-work
time is spent cleaning your parent’s house, sitting with them to ensure that
they don’t fall, or preparing their meals.
Of serious impact to many members of the sandwich
generation is financial planning. In many cases, caregivers are making up the
shortfall in their parents’ retirement planning, helping to provide the funds
for needed medical expenses or day-to-day living, or paying the high cost of
long-term care for their parents. We’re also forced into the position of
planning for long-term care for our parents, struggling to decide what steps
are appropriate for each stage of the aging process. It’s a lot for anyone to
carry on their shoulders! The least you can do is have a conversation with your
parents regarding their retirement planning and/or have them reach out to a long
term care Medicaid planning professional. This will significantly ease the
burden off your back when the financial aspect has been dealt with.
The Benefits of
Belonging to the Sandwich Generation
With all the troubles associated with being a member of the
sandwich generation, it’s hard to imagine that the benefits could rise to meet
them—but in many cases, they do. Caregiving families are able to develop
complex inter-generational relationships. Our kids were able to get to know
their grandparents, spending plenty of time with them. They got to listen to
their stories, learn those important life lessons, and the adolescents received
guidance for those rocky years. Members of the sandwich generation can rely on
their parents for advice. In many cases, the older generation can also provide
plenty of help with daily tasks, from feeding a baby to freeing up mom’s hands
to helping with light tasks around the house. Children who are raised as part
of this multigenerational arrangement have a deeper sense of family and
altruism than they can get from a single generation alone. It is also an
opportunity for us as adult children to “pay
back” our parents and be there for them when they need us the most.
The sandwich generation isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Being aware of both the upside and the downside of this trend can help many
individuals prepare for the years to come. Financial, emotional, and mental
preparation can make it much easier to navigate these complex waters and enjoy
the benefits of being a member of the sandwich generation while managing the
difficulties with grace and poise.
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