February 9, 2023
Sandwich generations have long had challenges, but the current generation’s challenges are unique. With Baby Boomers soon to be the largest retired population in history, their Gen X children will also be the largest Sandwich Generation in history. The ripple effect is significant and unprecedented, so a proactive approach is required.
The Sandwich Generation includes those who work hard to care for an aging parent and to support their children. While they are the primary caregivers for the generations they are sandwiched between, most continue to work.
There are many reasons why someone must parent, work, and provide care. These include:
There are additional complexities that create unique challenges faced by The Sandwich Generation.
There has never been more access to resources. Think beyond the growing number of independent and assisted living communities, and long-term care facilities, to modern advances in technology.
The average Baby Boomer has about $140,000 saved for their retirement. This doesn’t factor in assets, Social Security, or retirement savings, just cash. This might sound like a lot, but if they retire at the age of 65, and live until the expected average age of 79—this is only about $800 a month to live on.
Social Security will add a bit more, but with approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 each day—there are real concerns that Social Security may run out.
For a strategic approach, working with a financial planner who specializes in retirement is essential. The sooner the better. This ensures that assets are protected, a tax plan is in place, insurance benefits are optimized, and money is properly managed.
Health care spending is a major drain on retirement funds. It is important to prevent changes in ability as much as possible by living an active and healthy lifestyle so that preventable medical expenses can be avoided altogether and so that expenses in retirement are more planned and predictable.
Despite the best intentions to be supportive to loved ones, an increasing number of children aren’t available to help their parents as they age.
Besides, children and parents often living in different geographic locations from each other, Adult children may not be able to commit to caregiving during a time that their family member needs it the most. The demands of managing day-to-day needs related to raising children, running a household, fulfilling work obligations, and sustaining relationships leave little room for any additional responsibilities.
There are some families who do not have relationships where providing care is desired such as those who are completely estranged from each other. One U.S. study identified that about 12% of older adults were estranged from at least one of their children.
Even when family is not estranged, the bulk of the responsibility often falls on one sibling or family member. There are only so many hours in the day, so between the obligations of work, parenting, and caring for an aging parent—burnout is on the rise.
Currently, 19% of caregivers burnout and 22% are struggling with depression. Whether they are willing to admit it or not, most are struggling with severe quality of life issues. This includes strained relationships with their spouse and children, and often little to no social life or “me time.”
Many of us spend a lifetime daydreaming about retirement, only to find that retirement has a few harsh and unexpected downsides. This includes loneliness, anxiety, depression, and the rising suicide rates in the retired demographic.
1 in 4 seniors over the age of 64 are considered to be socially isolated, a term coined before that of COVID-era social distancing. Social isolation (just as with social distancing) increases the risk for depression. Add any of the additional factors above, and mental health concerns increase.
Be realistic—the first thing to do is accept the fact that you can’t do it all. This is easier said than done, and easier to say to others than to yourself. However, accepting this truth is better for you and your aging parent. Going it alone often results in costly mistakes, because you don’t know the specialists and resources available to you. For example, getting in touch with your local Area Agencies on Aging can be an excellent place to start.
Identify your local resources—seek out professional guidance by working with local retirement specialists. For example, a financial advisor/retirement planner, someone to help navigate Medicare, and another to ensure you understand your local senior resources.
Hire medical caregivers—certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and nurses can be privately hired to visit your aging parent at home or in their senior living facility. Sometimes their services are covered in part or in full by insurance. These skilled professionals improve safety, monitor health, and assist with activities of daily living.
Utilize companion caregivers—Explore your caregiver options beyond medically skilled caregivers. Companion caregivers can perform non-medical but essential daily tasks that provide significant peace of mind.
Whether your parent lives solo, with you, or out of state—caregiving doesn’t have to fall only on you. Whether you require respite, need to fill in scheduling gaps, or need increased socialization, YouMeCare is available for same-day and pre-scheduled non-medical caregiving.
Like agencies, we pre-screen and perform background and reference checks. Unlike agencies, you login to the app, create a profile for your parent, and select and schedule your caregivers yourself. There’s no need to commit to a weekly schedule and our caregivers are available on short notice. Once they arrive, they will send real-time updates directly to you through the YouMeCare app. You can’t do it all, let YouMeCare fill in the gaps!