“My dad has heart trouble and my mother-in-law has emphysema. I have an incredibly stressful job on top of it all. I also have three kids and grandkids and their problems to deal with.”
“I was 48 and my kids were three and eight when mom had a stroke and moved in. I felt tethered to home all the time. When mom had breathing issues and our teen began acting out, it was time to move her to assisted living—a big help, but a huge financial burden.”
“My father has just been diagnosed with moderate dementia and lives 1½ hours away. I work full-time and have kids and am so overwhelmed. The stress is going to eventually kill me.”
These blog posts were written by members of the Sandwich Generation—persons responsible for caring for aging parent(s) and young children (or financially supporting a grown one). The term was coined in 1981 by Dorothy Miller, a social worker and professor at the University of Kentucky.
According to a report from the Pew Research Center in 2012, 47 percent of adult caregivers 40 to 59 years of age belonged to the Sandwich Generation (SG). This group has become so large that July has now been officially designated as “Sandwich Generation Month.”
The members of the Sandwich Generation are still raising children as their parents are dealing with old age and also needing significant care. The dependent child and the parent engulf the “Sandwicher” in “bread slices” of needs, essentially impacting three generations.
The SG is said to be growing, with millennials set to become the next big group of multi-generational caregivers. These factors have contributed to growth of the Sandwich Generation:
- An increased life span causes more years of caregiving and caring for two or more parents.
- Adult children are less financially stable and living with their parents longer for support.
- People tend to have their children later in life, so the gap between generations is getting shorter.
- Caregivers are having fewer children, so there are fewer family members to care for the elderly.
- Increased senior (or “grey”) divorce rate generates caregiving needs for: 1) divorced parents in multiple locations; 2) divorced parents under one roof; or 3) a new spouse of a remarried parent
The good news is that CJE has experienced professionals who can provide guidance and support to meet the evolving needs of the Sandwich Generation. Here are just a few ways that we can help caregivers of multiple generations:
- Say your hands are full with the demands of a job and two teens. Your mom has been declining for a while, but it seems to be escalating. Food is spoiling in the fridge, her house is in disarray and she’s not taking care of herself. Also, her driving is erratic, but she insists on keeping the keys. Our team of Geriatric Care Managers at Your Eldercare Consultants can evaluate her abilities, set up a family meeting and make objective, informed determinations about home care, driving, etc.
- Your children are still in high school and your father was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, making him unable to be home alone. CJE Adult Day Services provides individual care plans and enriching activities, personal care, exercises, nutritious meals and snacks. Its three locations are staffed by caring professionals with training in dementia issues.
- You are a 70-year-old “sandwiched” between adult children and grandchildren and your 92-year-old father who is in assisted living. Emotional and health issues keep creeping up, and your own finances are getting strained. CJE Counseling Services provides private therapy as well as support groups for caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.
- Your own family’s papers are in order but your parents are confused about their health insurance and other senior benefits. By calling CJE SeniorLine at 773.508.1000 and talking to a Resource Specialist, they can have a Benefits Checkup and other questions answered.
CJE has been a trusted name in senior care for over 47 years and we want to help by letting you know what CJE can do to help caregivers cope, and even thrive. In upcoming LIFE issues, we’ll attempt to answer these nagging questions (and more) that arise among the Sandwich Generation:
- How do I balance the amount of time and resources I give to my children and elderly relative?
- How do I find time for myself in the process of caring for both sides of the sandwich?
- How do I keep the generational peace between the kids and the older adult?
- How do I find resources for myself and my loved ones?
- How do I deal with the guilt of never doing enough? Of getting angry? Of taking some “me time”?
One of CJE’s founding values is a well-known quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel: “The test of a people is how it behaves toward the old.” For the Sandwich Generation, which is “squeezed” in the middle between young and old, the “test” can be even more challenging. Let us know some of your questions and we will try to answer them in future issues. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have 35+ comprehensive services in our continuum of care to help ease caregivers stress and help the older adult. Besides those mentioned in the article, check out CJE Care Management, Kosher To Go, Home-Delivered Meals, Assisted Living, Short-Term Rehab and Long-Term Care. Call CJE SeniorLine at 773.508.1000 or go to www.cje.net.