Causes of the sandwich generation:
While this phenomenon has always existed, middle-aged adults are held to their responsibilities as both parents and children for far longer than in the past. One of the reasons for this occurrence can be tied to older adults living longer due to advancements in medical care. At the same time, adult children are struggling to find their financial independence, often returning home after college or during a period of unemployment due to the weak economy.
Facts about the sandwich generation:
According to the Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, www.pewsocialtrends.org, consider the following:
• In 1990 only 25% of adults, 18-24, lived with parents. By 2000, that number jumped to 52% and continues to rise.
• Nearly ½ (47%) of adults, 40-50, have a parent 65 years of age or older and are raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (18+).
• One in seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.
Considering the statistics, it would be easy for middle-aged adults of the sandwich generation to feel overwhelmed, not to mention resentful. Yet, overall individuals with caregiving responsibilities still claim to be happy with life (31%), although they do admit to always feeling rushed (31%). But, who can blame them? Shouldering the demands of their own lives in addition to those of two other generations leaves caregivers in the sandwich generation more prone to health concerns such as hypertension and depression.
Visit www.besmartbewell.com for videos and information on family caregiving.
Financial Tips for Family Caregivers:
• Have financial plans include the possibility of assisting parents and/or grown children as the worst-case scenario. Preparing for family caregiving immediately helps reduce stress.
• Encourage children to find ways to take responsibility for their own education by exploring loan options, scholarships and work-study programs.
• Use parents’ own assets for their care for as long as possible. While it might be ideal to preserve their assets, this option is not always feasible.
Family Caregiving Tips:
1. Consider yourself first. While it might sound selfish, the financial and emotional needs of a caregiver must be taken into account before he/she can possibly assist other family members.
2. Reduce stress. Exercise, have a good laugh, vent to friends or take up a hobby. Any stress-reducing activity will help caregivers deal with their added responsibilities.
3. Encourage independence in family members. Enlist the help of both children and parents, where possible. Adult children may still need to live at home for financial reasons, but they might be able to offer emotional support to caregivers and spend time with their grandparents, for instance.
Connect with others in similar situations Equipment borrowing, support groups and additional resources are available through www.sandwichgenerationmonth.com. In recognition of the Sandwich Generation Month, events and celebrations are being held throughout July to raise awareness and support family caregivers.