You have most likely heard the term “sandwich generation” and may in fact be living this feeling of being sandwiched between the multiple needs of your beloved younger and older loved ones. Here’s the Wikipedia break down on what this term means and the scope, in case it’s a bit unfamiliar:
“The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.
According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million.”
If you’re living this, we probably don’t need to tell you the special challenges of caring for your children (even helping adult children) and caring for aging parents (or a disabled spouse or other relative). Elder care management becomes all the more challenging when you are balancing multiple responsibilities and likely feeling guilt that you might not be doing enough, either for your elder or your children.
An added challenge for many families we help at Aging Wisely is the distance factor. Many adult children who call us about elder care management concerns live at some distance from their elderly parents here in Florida and are attempting to make travel arrangements, make tough decisions about when to come/when to step in, deciding whether it would be better if an elder parent moved closer (or in with them) and trying to coordinate medical care via phone. Some family members are even doing this from overseas, living as expats or working abroad (or traveling often for work) as covered so eloquently in the blog Adventures in Expat Land.
Here are a few of our tips for sandwich generation caregivers trying to manage multiple responsibilities of elder care management, taking care of children, work and more!
- Use tools that can save you time and headaches (i.e. “get organized”) such as putting together an online health record for your elder loved one who you assist. Have a quick list of contacts and important numbers and information handy. Do a little proactive research on some local resources (especially if you are at a distance). Technology can really be your friend in being organized and more easily having access to information (though this can also be overwhelming).
- Plan visits well, if you are a long-distance caregiver. Allow enough time for “family time” and don’t overload yourself (and your elder loved one) with tasks. Check out EasyLiving’s great “long distance caregiver checklist for visits” to help you organize.
- Be up front with your kids about what is going on with your elder parents (as appropriate to their ages) and how you need to assist. Set some expectations and involve them.
- Don’t see bringing in help as a sign of weakness or reason for guilt. You are doing your best to help your aging parents, raise a family and manage all that life throws your way. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to bring in professional advice or help in certain areas. Though elder care is a very personal issue, like many areas of life, you may be best served by seeking out expert help. A good starting point is a geriatric care management consultation.
“Sandwiched” caregiver looking for some advice and resources? Long-distance elder caregiver trying to manage and oversee care, ensuring your loved one’s well-being from afar? Give us a call to talk over your concerns and questions, schedule a consultation or find out more about how we can help with Florida eldercare resources and management.
727-447-5845 or toll free 888-807-2551 or contact us online to plan a time to talk
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