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Caregiving for an aging parent or both parents, along with your own children, can make you feel “sandwiched” between the older and younger generations. You may feel pulled in multiple directions while trying to meet the needs of your family members. According to the Pew Research Center, about a quarter of US adults in 2022 are in this situation.
Though multi-generational care has existed for millennia, we are seeing an increase in families simultaneously caring for children and parents. This is due to people living longer and needing more help as they age and families waiting longer to have children. The result is extra burdens and pressures on the middle generation.
Financial Cost to the Sandwich Generation
Caring for two generations of family members comes with emotional stress and increased financial expenses. Even if your parents have enough money to meet their needs, you may have to forfeit work time for unpaid caregiving activities. Most doctor’s appointments, for seniors and minor children alike, are during business hours, which means you have to take time away from work to shuttle family members to and from preventative care and emergency appointments as well as other activities.
Some members of the sandwich generation have had to put their careers on hold or give up full-time jobs to take part-time jobs. Reducing your income early or midway through a career can have long-lasting negative effects. You will have less money saved for retirement, large purchases, and emergencies. This also affects short-term expenses.
Emotional Cost to the Sandwich Generation
Raising children is a big commitment and can be stressful on its own. Add to that the responsibility for an elderly parent and your job, and you quickly run out of time for anything else, including yourself. This can mean giving up taking proper care of yourself, forfeiting your social life, hobbies, exercise, or even much-needed sleep. These sacrifices can erode your ability to cope effectively with stress.
Solutions for the Sandwich Generation
Juggling the time, energy, and economics of caring for two generations of relatives can seriously deplete your reserves. Finding ways to meet each person’s needs, including your own, is crucial to making the situation work. Though each family’s circumstances are unique and will likely require a distinctive solution, here are some things that could help.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a relative or family friend.
- Look into places you can leave your elderly relative for a few hours or a whole day, such as adult daycare, community centers, public libraries, or other recreational facilities.
- The same holds true for your children. Look for daycare options and after-school activities that allow them to socialize and enjoy time without you.
- Plan as far in advance as possible for scheduling conflicts and financial expenses.
- Get your elderly relative to do estate planning with an elder law attorney at least five years before they may need long-term care. Doing this can allow them to qualify for Medicaid or other government benefits when they need them. Knowing the resources for long-term care expenses are managed, you can focus on other things.
Even though you may see taking care of your family members as your highest priority, keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself as well. You can’t take care of others if you are unable to take care of yourself.
Our law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care. Contact us today to learn how we can help you and your loved ones plan for a prosperous future.