For over 20 years now, we’ve been getting together regularly with my best friends from high school. We talk about our lives over a glass of wine. In our 20s, our main topics were school, relationships, latest fashion trends, first jobs, and marriage. In our 30s, we became more focused on our family, raising kids, and healthy food trends. We are in our 40s now, and I noticed that our conversations always stir in one direction – caring for our parents on one side and the kids on the other.
Our moms and dads are in their late 60s or older. They’ve started to require our attention not only physically, emotionally but also financially. How can we distribute our time, energy, and finances between our own families and our aging parents?
We’ve dedicated many a mom’s night out (and glasses of wine) to this topic. And so, we have come up with tactics that help us cope with being a part of Sandwich Generation.
Why “sandwich” generation
You have probably heard this term before. But what exactly does it mean? Why “sandwich generation”? The term dates back to 1981 when social coworker Dorothy Miller described women in their 30s and 40s who were “sandwiched” between young children and aging parents as their caregivers. Our society has changed since then. The term now includes women as well as men and the age of “sandwich generation” has moved to 40-65.
Based on the Pew Research Center, nearly 50 percent of Americans have a parent aged 65 or older while raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child. They may face a full-time job, financial strain, unexpected expenses, or long-distance care that are huge burdens for the sandwich generation to carry.
Plan your finances
Like us, you may have kids or young adults at home that still need your financial support. At the same time, the financial and medical needs of their grandparents are growing. The pressure of raising a family, holding down a job, and managing finances is challenging indeed. We too, were unprepared and ended up dipping into our savings.
Planning well ahead can help your family be prepared and keep your life under control in the later years. Talk to your parents about their finances and determine whether they will be able to cover expenses in their senior years by themselves or if they are counting on your help.
Make time for yourself
Don’t push your limits by being available 24/7. Care for yourself first and you will have more energy to care for others. Find what makes you happy and relaxed, and make time to treat yourself. Is it a book or your favorite magazine? A cup of coffee on your sunny deck? Or some time out with your friends or playing sports? Find what will help you ease the stress. Stop focusing on others all the time and spend time to recharge.
Ask for help
You are dealing with a stressful period in life and you deserve a break. Think about what you need and ask for help. Do you need someone to drive your kids to soccer practice, or to make dinner because you’ve just spent the whole afternoon with your mom in the hospital? Many of your friends, neighbors or other family members (even your older kids) will be happy to help if they know how.
Your grown-up kids are able to help as well. Doing laundry or dishes are probably their regular chores already. Add dusting, vacuuming and mopping and check them off YOUR list. Many caregivers feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety that only professionals can help. You can also find a support group for caregivers in your area or online.
Use technology to save time
We all feel like we need more hours in a day. We are overwhelmed with work, after school activities, errands, doctor’s appointments, senior parent visits and other things that have to be done in one day. How to manage it all? Here are a few ways to save our valuable time.
Bring your laptop to doctor appointments to make good use of waiting time. You can catch up on a few emails, book your next holiday or do some online banking.
Do your shopping online. It saves you time and money since you’ll only get the things that you really need. No more spending an hour strolling around Target and leaving with a full cart when you just needed just two items.
You made it to all your appointments on time, you finished answering all your emails, your groceries are waiting on your front porch but you still need to check on your parents. You don’t have to drive to their house to see if they are ok. Use technology that can save you time. Apps such as Oscar Senior connect you to your parents and allow you to spend quality time with them through a video call.
Set it up in no time on your phone and your parents’ tablet and you can talk anytime, anywhere. It’s senior-friendly and every non-tech savvy senior finds it very easy to use.
It’s always hard to juggle a million things at the same time. As a result, we feel overwhelmed, stressed out and guilty that we can’t keep up with all our duties. Hopefully, these tips will help anyone who has to manage caring for kids and seniors at the same time.
To care for your parents easily, download a senior-friendly application Oscar Senior