Think of your favorite sandwich, two pieces of bread stuck together and the layers in the middle are being squeezed flat. That image perfectly depicts a generation of adults who are squeezed between the needs of their elderly family members or friends and the needs of children who are still at home or in need of financial support. The name, Sandwich Generation is somewhat of a misnomer – it’s not a particular generation but an ongoing conundrum of mostly middle-aged adults caught in the middle between caring for those they love.
According to a recent report issued by the National Caregiving Alliance, more than 11 million Americans are “sandwiched” between the needs of an elderly family member and their children. While there is wide diversity amongst these caregivers ethnically and racially, the majority are Generation X or millennials, women, married, and employed.
There are upsides to multigenerational families caring for each other. However, balancing work, children’s needs, and an elderly family member’s needs can cause significant stress emotionally, financially, and physically. Since the majority of these caregivers are also employed, balancing career needs with the needs of their family can be overwhelming.
Many caregivers leave the workforce because of the time constraints needed to give proper care, adding to the financial burden on their families. Sandwich Generation caregivers can also find themselves emotionally drained– having to constantly choose where to place attention and often choosing not to take enough time for themselves.
Read our guide to caring for elderly and aging parents
Striving to be everything for everyone can be overwhelming for Sandwich Generation caregivers but there are some tips that can help. Perhaps the most important tip is to remember that if you are in this position, you are not alone and there are resources to help.
Sandwich Generation caregivers do not have to be overwhelmed. Instead, there are many resources available to them to manage. Those options can include:
Home care is non-medical assistance with daily living requirements. This can include helping with meal preparation, transportation, hygiene needs, and companionship. This kind of care is perfect for the senior who is independent but needs physical help with getting their needs taken care of.
Assisted Living Facilities vs. Home Health Care
Home health aides are medically licensed caregivers who can help with basic medical needs at home. This includes making sure medications are given properly, maintain feeding tubes, exercising routines are followed and maintain records for a physician. They are similar to home care companions in that they can do light housework, and provide companionship.
Learn more about Home Health services
Adult daycare programs are designed to help families care for seniors who either need supervision during the day or would benefit from the social activities these programs provide. Like similar programs for children, these programs allow family members to work during normal business hours knowing that their loved one is cared for and enjoying themselves. Services can either be centered on socializing or health needs but usually include meals and transportation, some medical screening and management of medications, and other monitoring of needs.
Respite care is short-term care needed to give caregivers a break. Caring for a loved one who is aging, ill, or with other special needs is a round-the-clock job. No one can do it without a break – whether it’s for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Respite care can be given in the home, through a daycare program, or for short stays in an assisted living care facility.
Learn more about Respite Care services
Whatever help you need, Sandwich Generation caregivers do not have to do the job alone or feel overwhelmed. Depending on your need and resources, there are different options that can help everyone be loved and cared for.
Learn more to get a glimpse of how to live life to its fullest.