By Audrey Adelson
April 20, 2011
According to data compiled by the Pew Research Center, one out of every eight Americans, ages 40-60, is raising a child and caring for a parent at home. In addition to that, seven to 10 million Americans are caring for aging parents from a distance. These Americans, mostly comprised of Baby Boomers at the moment, are a part of a rapidly increasing population referred to as the Sandwich Generation. When you take into account that many GenXers held off on marriage and starting families until later in life and combine that with the fact that Americans are living longer and the largest generation in history will be beginning to hit retirement age this year - GenXers will soon be a part of the Sandwich Generation too. Work-life professionals cannot stress the need for anticipatory planning enough.
It is true that living in an intergenerational household can be enriching, rewarding and in many ways helpful, but without proper planning and effective communication, it can also bring incredible stress to individuals, couples and families. The impact can be felt on practically every aspect of a person’s life including emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially.
Below are some practical and useful tips we have compiled for to help those of you who are members of the Sandwich Generation and those of you who beginning to think about your future caregiving responsibilities.
Take care of yourself: physically, emotionally and psychologically. Avoid procrastination when it comes to exercise, having fun, and living your life.
Don’t avoid your relationships: spouse, partner, children and friends. Make time for these people.
Accept that you are not perfect and avoid over committing yourself emotionally, physically, and financially.
Clearly discuss any and all expectations with any family member involved. Delegate responsibilities to everyone including small children, adult children and elderly family members living with you. Everyone likes to feel productive.
Maintain separate time for yourself and for you and your partner.
Prevent pride from getting in your way in accepting help from friends, community or the government.
Learn what resources are available to help you.
Be proactive – avoid procrastination with regards to future caregiving responsibilities. If you don’t think this is an issue now, but know some day it will be – NOW is the time to be planning.
Take advantage of resources available at Emory including the Emory WorkLife Resource Center, FSAP, BrownRichards & Associates, Emory Healthcare, Emory Center for Health in Aging, Emory Alzheimer’s Research Center, etc.
Consider flexible work options.
Some additional resources compiled by CNNMoney.com that you may find helpful:
Elder Care Locator
National Council on Aging
Medicare done better: Medicare
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
American Association of Daily Money Managers
American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living
Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living
Assisted Living Federation of America
Money Magazine and CNN Money
Retirement & College Worksheets
360 Degrees of Financial Literacy
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Saving for College
Family Caregiving 101
Support for Children of Aging Parents
Two for the Money: The Sensible Plan for Making It All Work by Jonathan & David Murray with Max Alexander
The Complete Eldercare Planner by Joy Loverde
How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris