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Are you a part of the Sandwich Generation?

Three Generations of Men

The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. This is especially challenging when the “slices” of the sandwich live far apart from one another and have different needs from you.

The reasons that the prevalence of this phenomenon is increasing can be for several reasons including but not limited to the delayed parenting of children and increased lifespan of parents.

Who are they?

  • Upwards of 75% of all caregivers are female, and may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than males. [Institute on Aging. (2016). Read How IOA Views Aging in America.]
  • Male caregivers are less likely to provide personal care, but 24% helped a loved one get dressed compared to 28% of female caregivers. 16% of male caregivers help with bathing versus 30% of females. 40% of male caregivers use paid assistance for a loved one’s personal care. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2009). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • On average, caregivers spend:
    • 13 days each month on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication;
    • 6 days per month on feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and assistance toileting;
    • 13 hours per month researching care services or information on the disease, coordinating physician visits or managing financial matters. [Gallup-Healthways. (2011). Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.]
  • Average age: 49.2 years old
    • 48% of caregivers are 18-49 years old
    • 34% of caregivers are 65+ years old [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • Family caregivers spend an average of 24.4 hours per week providing care. Nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spend 41 hours or more per week providing care. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • The average duration of a caregiver’s role is 4 years.
    • Only 30% of caregivers provide care for less than a year.
    • 24% of caregivers provide care for more than 5 years.
    • 15% of caregivers provide care for 10 or more years. Higher-hour caregivers are twice as likely to have been in their caregiving role for 10 years or more. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]

Why are the numbers important?

Because you need to understand there are many people dealing with the same issues and there is help and knowledge to assist.

The constant multitasking can be exhausting, especially when dealing with aging parents who live in different states than you and your children, or if you have children on the West Coast, you’re in the Midwest and your parent is on the East Coast.  While the internet means we can work anywhere in the world, it doesn’t help much when we are trying to give personal care to the ones we love.

The biggest issues caregivers deal with are stress, financial hardship, and depression.

Tips to Ease your Issues

  • Ask other family members to assist with the caregiving such as cousins who can help, also.
  • Never feel guilty about saying no, as, in the end, you have to set your boundaries to survive.
  • Take time for yourself by adding it to your calendar – a yoga class, an art class, dinner with friends so you can act your age for a while.
  • Know when you cannot manage it all and looking to caregiving management services to assist while you provide the tender loving care that would come best from you.
  • While your children can assist with older loved ones it should not be their sole responsibility as they are trying to manage being a kid.
  • Support groups are amazing and can provide tremendous knowledge and support.
  • Make sure you are getting regular checkups and watching your own diet, as you are no good to your loved one if you are sick.
  • There are many resources available and once you find one make sure you visit it often for updates, like this blog, or our resource page.
  • It is possible for you to visit your college student for the weekend and do other traveling by hiring a caregiving service, enlisting the help of relatives and friends, and making your time away a priority.
  • If your parent is far away and you are having to provide care maybe it is time for one of you to move and if that is not an option then finding a trustworthy caregiver manager can ease some of your stress and worry, as they will be nearby.
  • If your loved one has been part of a church community there are many whose mission is to assist with elderly members of the church – but you have to ask!

The fact is, everyone, needs a break, but Sandwich Generation caregivers need to learn to build in resources to help early in the cycle to help so that burnout does not take hold.

Reach out to senior living advisors, agencies, doctors, counselors, friends, and support groups to help keep a balance in caring for both generations of your loved ones, as well as yourself!