Thriving and Surviving the Sandwich Generation Years

Posted at Jul 20, 2016 |

Thriving and Surviving the Sandwich Generation Years

If you are a northern Michigan caregiver juggling the needs of your own family with those of aging parents, you are a member of the sandwich generation.

Every summer the month of July is designated as Sandwich Generation Month. It is a time to help raise awareness about the unique challenges people sandwiched between their children’s needs and providing support to their parents.

Who Are Sandwich Generation Caregivers?

Members of the Sandwich Generation are usually adults between the ages of 40 – 59. They are most often women and typically work at least part-time outside the home.

Family caregivers often juggle these roles for several years. 55% of caregivers report having been involved in the care for a senior loved one for three years or more.

Costs of Being a Member of the Sandwich Generation

The financial toll of caring for your parents and children simultaneously can create a serious financial strain. Northern Michigan families who find themselves in this situation may be forced to make cutbacks in their budget.

Caregiving costs like medication, transportation, and groceries can add up quickly. Families often report that these expenses prevent them from saving for their children’s college expenses and their own retirement.

Tips for Surviving the Sandwich Generation Days

If you are one of the 22 million Americans struggling to balance these two caregiving roles, there are a few steps you can take to better manage all of these stressful responsibilities.

  1. Asking for Help isn’t a Sign of Failure: Adult children often believe it is their duty to handle all an aging parent’s care on their own. While it is a noble goal, it isn’t very realistic. Especially if you work outside the home. Ask for help from friends and family. If you don’t have anyone you can turn to for support, contact your local Area Agency on Aging to see if they know of respite services near you. For families in northern Michigan, The Brook Retirement Communities offer short-term respite stays to benefit both the senior and their sandwich generation caregiver.
  2. Take Care of You: Self-care is often the first thing that suffers when a sandwich generation caregiver is trying to juggle it all. They neglect having routine health screenings and live life on the run. That often includes an unhealthy diet and very little physical exercise. Over time it is a lifestyle that increases your risk for a health crisis of your own. When you feel guilty about taking time out for your own needs, remind yourself that you won’t be able to care for everyone who counts on you if your own health experiences a decline.
  3. Get Organized: One of the best ways to feel more in control of all you are struggling to manage is to a take time out to get organized. Create a binder of your senior loved one’s health information. Set up a large calendar or mobile app to list everyone’s activities and appointments. Being organized can help reduce your level of stress.
  4. Set Realistic Goals: This can be a difficult one for caregivers to accept. You really can’t be everything to everyone. Instead, set realistic expectations for each day or each event you plan. It might mean you turn an annual summer picnic for the neighbors in to a potluck where everyone brings a dish to pass. Or that you buy a child’s birthday cake from a local bakery instead of making it yourself. Try to avoid negative self-talk and to be kind to yourself about the changes you need to make during this time.

We hope you will help us spread the word about Sandwich Generation Month by sharing this information with friends, family and colleagues!

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