You belong to the sandwich generation if you’re stuck between caring for your kids and aging parents at the same time. Read on to find out how you can shoulder the burden of this huge responsibility.

What is the Sandwich Generation?

Research shows that one out of seven middle-aged adults (15%) provides financial support to an aging parent while raising their own child. It’s also estimated that 17.8% of young adults aged 25 to 34 lived with their parents in 2019.

With an aging population and a huge number of young adults struggling to become financially independent, the responsibilities of middle-aged adults continue to increase. If you’re among the individuals who struggle to support both their aging parents and growing children, you belong to the sandwich generation.

Your kids may still be in school or they may be older adults who are not yet able to live on their own. At the same time, you may have aging parents staying with you or in an assisted living facility.

In this case, you have to support both your children and the aging parent. Juggling the two roles is the burden of the sandwich generation.

The Burden of the Sandwich Generation

Financial Burden

Caring for both your kids and aging parents is financially costly. Here are some of the factors that make it a heavy financial burden:

  • The ongoing medical expenses for the aging parents
  • The costs for an assisted living facility
  • College tuition fees for the kids
  • Childcare expenses for young kids
  • Financial support for young adults

These expenses may skyrocket beyond $10,000 per year, causing you greater financial stress. And as a result, your long-term financial stability and retirement security may take a hit, forcing you to push off retirement and continue working to make ends meet.

Lost Opportunity Cost

As a sandwich generation member, you spend hours of unpaid labor caring for your loved ones. That means you may have to turn to part-time employment or reduce your working hours, which might be detrimental to your career. In other words, you may lose job opportunities that pay better but need more time commitment.

Emotional Toll

Providing for your parents and kids may take an emotional toll on you. You’re always juggling kids’ activities, household chores, and caring for your old parents. On top of all that, you may have a full-time job to concentrate on, making it such a tough balancing act.

Because you dedicate plenty of your time to helping your loved ones, you may have no time to care for yourself. This may mean harboring the psychological burden that comes with multigenerational responsibilities. In the end, you may suffer from mental health problems.

Individuals belonging to the sandwich generation often suffer from more than mental health problems as well.

Problems of Being the Sandwich Generation

Here are some of the common problems that members of the sandwich generation usually face:

  • Sandwich caregivers may experience mental fatigue. It occurs when your brain’s energy levels deplete because of the demanding nature of the caregiving role.
  • You may also experience bad mental health because of high-stress levels. And as a result, you’re likely to engage in poor coping mechanisms, like smoking and drinking.
  • According to a CDC brief, caregivers are prone to multiple chronic ailments. That’s because they disregard their health needs while supporting their loved ones.
  • Since you’re always busy, you’ll have no time to cultivate and maintain important relationships.
  • You may also grapple with job burnout. It may manifest as low motivation and a lack of satisfaction in your work. You could, for example, struggle with simple tasks.

Given the serious nature of these problems, it’s also crucial to determine how to reduce the burden on the sandwich generation.

How to Lessen the Burden of the Sandwich Generation

Ask for Assistance

Finances are a common source of worry for most sandwich caregivers. But you don’t have to shoulder the financial burden alone.

You can ask your siblings to chip in for some of the caregiving costs. They could also manage doctor’s appointments on your behalf.

Utilize the CDPAP Program

Confirm if your parent’s insurance offers the CDPAP (consumer-directed personal assistance program) program benefit. The CDPAP allows home care consumers to employ their preferred caregivers, including friends and family members.

Under the CDPAP program, you would get paid for administering care to your elderly parents. This will allow you to give your parents the type of care that only a loved one can provide. And at the same time, you get paid for taking care of them.

Hire an In-home Caregiver

If you don’t want to send your aged parent to an elderly home, you can always hire a professional in-home caregiver. The good news about hiring an in-home caregiver is that it’s cost-effective. You can also take advantage of a few government funding options, such as home care packages & the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Financial Planning for Your Kids

Encourage your kids to become financially independent. Talk to them about the value of saving money and wise spending.

Once they get a job, they should be able to shoulder their own expenses. This will relieve you of the burden of taking care of them.

Sit Down and Financially Plan

You have a huge list of to-dos that you should plan for. Start by reviewing your personal finances. By doing so, you can know what you can do in relation to helping others.

Next, talk to your parents about their income and asset investments. You should first understand your parents’ financial capabilities before they can start to depend on you for care.

With this background information, you can set reasonable expectations for yourself and prioritize what is urgent or meaningful.

Join a Support Group

Many caregivers out there face similar challenges as you. You can find them at your local hospital or on internet forums.

Chat them up and share your experiences. You will find comfort in letting out the emotional baggage. You’ll also learn new skills on how to provide care for your loved ones.

Care for Yourself

Consider yourself as the fulcrum that keeps everything in balance. If you break down, all ends collapse. That’s why you need to take some time off. Otherwise, you’ll experience emotional fatigue.

Ask your partner or siblings to step in even as you take some time off to focus on yourself. This could mean reading a book, taking a walk, or doing yoga. These activities will help refresh your mind and spirit and bring a sense of optimism to your caregiving role.

Manage Your Stress

To deal with sandwich caregiver stress, you should:

  • Eat right.
  • Sleep enough.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take part in physical exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga.
  • Chat with your pals or join a support group.

The Bottom Line

Supporting your kids and parents simultaneously isn’t easy. You’re basically juggling many roles, which could sometimes get overwhelming.

But you don’t have to handle everything by yourself. You can ask for help from your partner or siblings or join a support group. And most importantly, don’t neglect your well-being. Always take some time off to do activities that you enjoy.

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