The ‘sandwich generation’ references adults who are caring for their aging family members as well as raising young children or supporting grown offspring. This is increasingly likely as almost half of middle-aged adults have a parent or family member who is a senior citizen. This means that senior caregivers are likely to be adults with full-time jobs and children. These family caregivers are having to juggle many responsibilities including financial burdens, time constraints, and emotional burnout.
This can feel impossible to manage – especially since they are responsible for the health and wellness of vulnerable ages such as young children and elderly parents.
Family caregivers of the ‘sandwich generation’ will feel as if they need to put their own needs aside because they are being relied on by those more vulnerable than themselves. They will feel unable to take necessary breaks and get adequate sleep because there is always someone who needs their care. This can lead to physical and mental burnout as people who are too busy to take care of themselves are often going to run themselves into the ground. They will miss their own doctor’s appointments, skip exercises and not prioritize healthy eating due to them undervaluing their own health and prioritizing their loved ones. As well, planning and implementing the care of children and elders is complex and time-consuming.
This means that adult caregivers spend their time facilitating the lives and wellness of their loved ones, rather than investing that time in themselves. This lack of time investment in themselves will lead to caregiver burnout.
Adult caregivers often do not have the luxury of being able to dedicate their full time and attention to their elderly family members and their children – as they have to also work at their full-time job. Working full-time while being a full-time caregiver can be stressful and overwhelming.
This may mean that caregivers will have to renegotiate their working conditions depending on their family’s needs. Some families may need to work more and hire professional caregivers and nannies to support their families, and other families may decide to work part-time so one adult can focus primarily on family care. Ensure you are looking into benefits with your company to see if they offer childcare and or senior support benefits.
The discussion of navigating new working options for your family, can lead to financial strain. With the rising prices of the cost of living coupled with the challenge of finding good-paying, long-term careers – it is already difficult for the average North American family to pay for their household needs. Adding your elderly loved ones’ household needs and medical bills to this can be unmanageable.
This can bring up complicated conversations around adult offspring’s’ university tuition as well as their own retirement. Talking about money can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but it is critical when planning for long-term finances. Make an appointment with your financial advisor at your bank and they can help lead you in your financial journey, whether that means selling the senior’s home, using investments, or other governmental programs.
The challenges of being a caregiver in the ‘sandwich generation’ can be overwhelming. It will lead to many difficult conversations regarding career and financial decisions. Family caregivers deserve the support of their community, so make sure you reach out to experts in your lives, such as financial advisors, community facilities, and government programs to ensure you are receiving the support you need.