As the elderly population rises, a new crop of young adults struggles to gain a strong financial foothold in tough economic times. The people ‘sandwiched’ between aging parents and adult children are constantly referred to as “the sandwich generation,” a term gaining in popularity each day. Being part of the sandwich generation’s demographics means that both their children and parents are often placed to care simultaneously for them, which is often hard for young adults in the emotional and financial sense.
Sandwich Generation: The Caregivers Between Generations
What is a sandwich caregiver? Sandwich caregivers are the ones who take care of the elderly that are part of the sandwich generation, and they could be professionals or family members. Stressors such as burnout, sleep problems, shame, depression, and anxiety—which causes a personal toll on well-being— are also faced by caregivers working with sandwich generation people. Among caregivers who reported declining health, 63% said their eating habits deteriorated, 51% began to take more drugs, and 58% said their exercise habits worsened. Mental stress can also manifest itself in other negative ways.
The Demographics of The Sandwich Generation
One in seven sandwich generation adults supports both their parents and one or more kids financially.
The “sandwich generation” term became famous when it was introduced in 2006 to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. However, the dictionary fails to note the heavy financial and emotional burden that can cause caregivers to be a part of this generation. Next are the demographics of the sandwich generation:
40s-50s (The Traditional Sandwich Generation)
The traditional sandwich generation is adults—in their 40s or 50s—usually sandwiched between their elderly parents and their typically adult children, who all require financial or other assistance.
50s-60s (The Club Sandwich Generation)
The club sandwich generation is older adults—in their 50s or 60s—wedged between elderly parents, their adult children, and likely grandchildren. This term may also apply to younger adults (30 or 40 years old) who have younger kids, elderly parents, and aging grandparents.
Non-professionals involved in senior caregiving
People can work in a household, senior home, or assisted living facility as a non-medical caregiver. They can run errands, clean, do laundry, and organize as requested by the client or their family. Either home health services or non-medical care may be provided by both home care providers and private caregivers. However, if it is home medical services that a family needs, seeking an independent caregiver appropriately trained and certified is a far more significant challenge. Most families tend to use home care providers for this reason due to the additional complexities associated with medical care.
The Toll Of Being In The Sandwich Generation
Along with an aging population and a generation of young adults struggling to gain financial freedom, the pressures and responsibilities of middle-aged Americans are rising. Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have parents 65 years of age or older and raise a small child or financially support an adult child (age 18 or older). And about one in seven middle-aged adults (15 percent) provide both an aging parent and a child with financial assistance.
What are the sandwich generation issues? People in the sandwich generation continuously confront dilemmas such as:
Splitting time between their children and elderly parents, or loved ones
Finding quality time with their partners and for themselves
Dealing with the sense of guilt for not having sufficient time to do it all
According to an informal sandwich generation survey made by The New York Times and the data research group YouGov, adults caring for both children and older relatives estimate they have lost more than $10,000 over their time as caregivers. This commonly leads to shortened work hours, increased costs, and a lack of job opportunities.
In addition to this increased financial burden, according to the survey, sandwich generation caregivers often sacrifice their retirement and savings to assist aging relatives. The lack of a retirement nest egg by elderly parents will seriously affect adult children's preparations, raising the probability they will someday have to rely on their children.
Emotional Burden / Stress
According to the American Psychological Association's annual “Stress in America” survey, caring for individuals with different needs can lead to severe stress. For example, mothers in the sandwich generation, ages 35-54, display the highest stress levels of any population group.
The relentless balancing act of caring for both parents and children stimulates this anxiety. This situation is complicated mainly because multi-generational caregiving leaves the sandwich generation members incapable of taking time for themselves.
Caregivers may develop chronic stress without time to attend to their own emotional needs. Constant stress is not only emotionally damaging, but it also raises the likelihood that high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and heart disease will develop.
Tips To Cope With The Burden of Caregiving
Find Time To Take A Break
Consider safe behaviors that alleviate tension by taking a short stroll, exercising, or talking to friends or family about things. Bear in mind that, over time, harmful habits evolve and can be hard to modify. Concentrate on changing only one action at a time.
Create A Self-Care Routine
Eat well, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and participate in daily physical activities such as cycling, dance classes, or yoga. Keep in touch with family members and colleagues. You need to take care of yourself, which involves finding time for yourself, no matter how hectic life gets, so you have the mental and physical resources to care for your parents and children.
Ask For Help
Accepting assistance from helpful friends and family will strengthen your capacity during difficult times to persevere. Once you realize you need help, then you may proceed to speak to a counselor. A counselor or therapist may help you resolve the feelings behind your worries, handle stress better, and alter unhealthy behaviors. More so if you continue to be frustrated by stress or any unhealthy habits.
Get Power of Attorney
Knowing your elderly loved one's wishes and getting a legal authority in advance will avoid stress in the long run by saving money and time. Setting up a power of attorney will make it easier for you and your children to provide medical emergencies and end-of-life treatment.
Senior Care Can Be Of Great Help For The Sandwich Generation
The Benefits of Homecare
There are many forms of senior care, and families seeking assistance for aged loved ones have no one-size-fits-all solution. Many multi-generational caregivers want to keep their elderly parents at home, but it can add tremendous mental and emotional pressure to continuous treatment. All services for senior care include home care, adult day care, and respite care.
Generally, home care providers bill by the hour. Home care does not offer health care; instead, it provides a mixture of personal care and household assistance, such as:
Sometimes, all seniors need to stay healthy is a bit of companionship and have someone to talk to in their daily routine.
Help with activities of daily living (ADLs)
Activities such as grocery shopping, cooking, and bathing, are some of the ADLs a professional caregiver can provide.
Personalized and healthy meal preparation.
Home cleaning is often part of the caregiver's activities.
Does your loved one need to do errands? General home caregivers can take their care recipient to any place—grocery store, hospital, parks, etc.
Home Health Care
There is a difference between home health and home care. Although home care provides regular assistance, professional medical monitoring is offered by home health. Registered nurses and therapists qualified to prescribe medicine, give shots, and assist in wound treatment or recovery, are perfect examples of home health care professionals.
Home health requires the prescription of a doctor and is typically protected by Medicare or private insurance.
Adult Day Care
Adult day care provides seniors with supervision, socialization, and organized events. Many programs include food, travel, and personal care. Adult day care usually has minimal hours that conform to regular workdays. The national average cost of daycare for adults is $75 a day, but even one day a week will alleviate stress for caregivers.
Most assisted living centers provide respite treatment. Caregivers recognize that loved ones will be cared for by people who appreciate the unique needs of elderly adults with this temporary relaxation of caregiving responsibilities. At the same time, seniors will enjoy meals and events targeted at seniors. Respite care can also be a "trial run" to help decide whether your family will benefit from long-term assisted living.
Are you suffering from the adverse effects of the Sandwich Generation? Do you need a reliable helping hand? Call Right At Home and find the relief you've been looking for, as our professionals and certified caregivers are trained to help all families and individuals by providing excellent care to your senior loved one. Give us a call today and allow yourself to take a break!