It’s known as the “perfect storm”—the combined stress of caring for your aging parents and your children at the same time. If you have this double responsibility, you are a member of the sandwich generation, and face the same needs and opportunities of caring for your aging parents, yourself and your growing family.
The typical “sandwich” family makes up about 25 percent of all the families in the country, which includes 10 million baby boomers. Though every family is unique, members of the sandwich generation share many of the same challenges. Our society expects much of everyone, and thousands of mid- to-retirement age citizens often balance the care of their senior loved ones with a career, community involvement and raising children of their own.
Members of the sandwich generation fall into three categories:
Traditional sandwich: People sandwiched between caring for their aging parents in need, and raising their own children.
Club sandwich: Men and women in their 50s or 60s, caring for their parents, grown children and grandchildren. This category also includes people in their 30s or 40s caring for their grandparents, parents and young children.
Open faced: Anyone else involved in elder care.
If you are a member of the sandwich generation, know that there are avenues of assistance for you. First, remember to take care of yourself. While your schedule may be hectic, be sure to reserve time for yourself and set up a diet, exercise and sleep regimen. The next step is to start gathering information and planning for the future, both for yourself and for your parents.
Talk with your parents to learn about their financial situation. Do they need help with money management? Take a look at how you are doing financially; do you have enough money for retirement and sending your children to college?
Iron out Legal Procedures
Legal help is another thing to consider. You and your parents might decide that you will act on your parents’ behalf if an emergency arises. Make sure your parents have power of attorney authorizing someone to sign checks, pay bills and make financial decisions on their behalf; and power of attorney for health care (or a healthcare proxy) authorizing someone to make medical decisions. Also, your parents need a living will outlining their wishes should they ever need life-sustaining medical care.
Make a plan for long-term health care for mom and dad. Where do your parents want to live as they get older? What kind of services would they like to receive?
Use this information to make the decisions necessary to help you care for your parents and children. By taking the right steps, you can keep your family, and your finances, together. For any other questions about your care options, please contact Synergy HomeCare.