As medical technology advances and people live longer, more and more adults will become part of the "Sandwhich Generation."

 

The Sandwhich Generation applies to people caring for their aging parents while still caring for their own children.

Per Us Census Bureau statistics1, the number of Americans age 65 or older will double to over 70 million by the year 2030. To bring recognition to this relatively new phenomenon and help minimize the potential for negative effects, July has been named Sandwich Generation Awareness Month. 

Balancing work, child care and elderly care may cause major stress in the finances, emoitons and relationships of sandwich families. For example, caring a parents can lead to finacial stress as a reult of the need to change work hours, refuse a job offer, a reduction in income, or the need for extended care. The challenges to elders are equallu daunting and emotional stress may arise as parents are forces to give up control of their lives and forgo their possessions. Finally, relationships may be strained as two generations of parents and children compete for time, attention and status in a sandwich home. 

So how are sandwhich families coping? Here are a few tips to avoid Sandwich generation problems: 

  • Address Legal, Practical, and Emotional Issues as Early as Possible. Talk with your parents about their assets, how they want to live as they age, what kind of health care and life saving measures they do or don't want, who should make legal and medical decisions for them if they are no longer able to handle their own affairs and take the necessary steps to honor their wishes. 
  • Plan Ahead. Be realistic when projecting the income you'll need in retirement and get your financial house in order. Consider the possibility that one or more of your kids will return home after college and/or one or more of your parents will need physical or finanical assistance and plan accordingly. 
  • Preserve Your Assets. A well designed estate plan should take into consideration potential costs associated with extended care for your parents as well as yourself. 
  • Strike a Balance. Plan separate time for your spouse, your children and your parents to nurture your releationships and avoid over commitment of your time to work or other life events. Life is too precious to not be intentional with the things that actually matter. 
  • Love Yourself. While you may be tempted to put your own needs after those of your aging parents and children, DON'T. Caring for others can be hard on your physical and emotional health, take advantage of caregiver support and day centers within your community. Remember that you are not alone and reaching out for help is never weakness, this is exactly why people and programs are there.

1. www.census.gov/

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