If you’re not familiar with the term ‘sandwich generation’, it refers to that large group of people who are sandwiched in between caring for adult parents, and their grown or almost fully grown children. It’s very easy to become the bologna of this generation when you get squeezed in between these two groups of people competing for your attention. In Oxford and elsewhere, many adults are obliged to cope with taking care of their senior loved ones, as well as providing care for their almost grown children, or even children who have become adults and are on their own. Senior home care professionals can be acutely aware of the sandwich generation scenario because they experience the exact same thing in their own households.
Understanding the sandwich generation
It is estimated that nearly 50% of adults in their 40’s and 50’s are simultaneously providing care and support for parents aged 65 and above, while also offering support for grown or nearly grown children of their own. Typically, those included in the sandwich generation tend to fall into one of three categories of support. The first of these is considered the traditional sandwich generation, in that they provide financial assistance and parenting for both age groups, above and below them.
The second group is considered to be the ‘club sandwich generation’, and in addition to supporting aging parents and adult children, they sometimes are also called upon to provide care for grandchildren. The ‘open-faced sandwich generation’ consists of that group of individuals who participate in non-professional caregiving for loved ones, and this usually includes about 25% of the overall sandwich generation.
The problem for anyone who is included in any of these three basic groupings is that inevitably, it takes a huge toll on your emotions as well as your finance. Being under that kind of stress for a prolonged period can literally make anyone feel like they’re the bologna being squeezed thin between two irrepressible layers of bread.
Stressors the sandwich generation must deal with
As you might have guessed, the numbers associated with the sandwich generation are constantly growing, and that means a great many more people are being subjected to this kind of financial and emotional distress. You might be surprised to learn that in the majority of cases, it isn’t the senior parents who are the greatest source of this stress, but the adult children of parents who are being squeezed.
It has been estimated that somewhere around 30% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have returned home while attending college. This, of course, places a significant burden on the parents being sandwiched, because they must also support their elderly loved ones and their own home lives as well. Caring for an elderly loved one can be extremely stressful, given the fact that there are likely to be major medical bills, helping with their daily routines, monitoring their actions around the home, and even legal issues that pop up.
With the demands of providing support and care for so many others besides themselves, sandwiched parents often experience total burnout and feelings of depression. It’s also sometimes difficult to extend the right amount of time to keeping your marriage healthy and viable, and it becomes difficult to juggle home life, hobbies, and relationships. With these adults being pulled in so many different directions each day, it’s easy to see how some psychological issues could develop.
Ways to manage sandwich generation stress
Some sandwiched parents are so busy attending to the needs of others, that they neglect themselves, and this can become a dangerous situation. That’s why it is quite necessary to relieve some of the stress involved with being a sandwich generation parent. You can help your adult children with advice on getting jobs and on setting up their own households.
You may want to simplify logistics by moving your elderly parents into your home, so caregiving can be easier. For your own peace of mind, you may want to set your parent up with Medic Alert, so they can be monitored around the clock. Whomever you provide financial assistance to, you should establish a set amount of money that you can contribute each month, and don’t exceed that figure.
It will be essential for you to maintain open lines of communication with all those people who depend on you, so everyone can have the same expectations, and no one gets unreasonable. Enroll your loved ones in an identity theft protection service, so they won’t get scammed or preyed upon by criminal-minded individuals. Be advised that if you’re contributing to your parents’ medical payments, this could be a deduction for you on your own income filing. You should also know that adults attending higher education institutions are eligible for tax breaks as well, so this could relieve some of your financial burden.