Caring for aging parents while caring for growing children is a lot for anyone to bear. The trials and tribulations of caring for both age groups, while also caring for yourself, can make it feel like you are quite literally stuck between a rock and a hard place, feeling the pressure of meeting the needs of those who rely on you without having the ability to truly meet your own needs. This is the reality of the Sandwich Generation.
It is estimated that roughly 33% of Americans right now are living in the Sandwich Generation. Currently, this group is made up of mainly Gen X’ers aged 40-65 years old. In fact, according to a Pew research report, “nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent over the age of 65 and are either raising a young child or financially supporting an adult child over the age of 18. And about one in seven middle aged adults (or 15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.”
Between personal responsibilities, work responsibilities, and the seemingly unending responsibilities of caring for others, it is hard for those in this demographic to feel balanced, oftentimes burning the candle at both ends just keeping someone else warm. It is estimated that these individuals spend over 3 hours per day caring for someone else, split between their parents and children. This is not only emotionally exhausting, but financially taxing, mentally draining, and it often leads to the question – who is taking care of the caretakers? Who is giving the caregivers the attention and love they deserve, when they don’t have the personal resources to give it to themselves? If you feel this is you or someone you know, here are some tips on how to make this way of life a little easier on everyone involved.
- Enlist support. We know it can be hard to ask for help. After all, who knows your parents better than you? Who can meet their needs like you can? The answer lies in support systems. Be it from family or professionals, like VANTAGE Aging’s Home Wellness Solutions staff, you do not have to go it alone. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports, “women provide unpaid, informal care that ranges from $148 to $188 billion annually.” This adds up and leads to caregiver burnout and fatigue. Calling on others to support you in these times can lead to more self-care, less burnout, and better overall health for you. Call our Home Wellness Solutions team to start a care plan, which will include that non-medical in-home care your parents and loved ones deserve. Wouldn’t you feel better if you knew your mom was being cared for by someone who takes her care as seriously as you do?
- Stay organized. The demands faced by the Sandwich Generation are nonstop and overwhelming. Keeping a system of organization, from a calendar with important dates and notes to scheduled family meetings, will help them and the care team stay on the same page. Delegating tasks and setting responsibilities for others during this meeting will also help caregivers beat back burnout. In times like these, allowing VANTAGE Aging’s Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio team bring mom and dad their daily meals will help ease your mind that they are getting the nutrition they need – including custom meal plans to help meet specialized and medical nutrition guidelines – along with a daily wellness check, five days a week. Making that phone call lightens the burden for the caregiver.
- Prepare for financial challenges that can face the adult caregiver. While also handling their own personal finances, adult caregivers find themselves handling the finances of their parents. This can lead to an overload of bills with no relief in sight, and insurance can only cover so much. Let VANTAGE Aging help. If your parent is still willing and able to work, even at least part time to help ease the pocketbook strain, our SCSEP Workforce Solutions program is the way to go. From skill-building to confidence-boosting and even help with technical skills gaps brought on by the digital divide, our team can help your mom get back into the workforce, while taking some of the financial burden off of you.
- Support socialization for the aging parent. Social interaction is important for people of all ages, especially those who are older and may be living alone. Promoting times for social interactions – such as volunteering – boosts the quality of life for the aging parent as well as peace of mind for the caregiver. VANTAGE Aging’s AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Volunteer Program can help caregivers match up their parents with opportunities to give back to their communities. From delivering meals for Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio to making greeting cards and phone calls to homebound seniors, to helping out at local nonprofits and even job and career coaching, VANTAGE has a program that meets nearly all of the interests of aging adults. Providing aging adults with a way to use their time and talent to give back also promotes a strong quality of life for both them and those they help.
VANTAGE Aging has a solution for many of the common concerns and responsibilities of those in the Sandwich Generation. You and your family do not have to go it alone. We understand it can be so hard to ask for help. Trusting VANTAGE Aging to assist with the care and quality of life of both you and your parents means trusting an organization with nearly 50 years of experience in serving the aging population and supporting their families. Make that call today – we look forward to hearing from you.