If you’re not familiar with the term “sandwich generation,” it’s not as nice as it sounds. Instead of being a fun and tasty casual food for residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere, it describes how some middle-aged families sometimes are required to provide care for their children at the same time they’re caring for a parent or parents, something that’s twice as challenging as helping one generation at a time, especially if hospice care may be involved.
This type of situation is actually becoming more common as couples have children later in life, Americans are living longer but may need more health care as they age, and many older people prefer to stay with family and try to be as independent as possible instead of having to relocate to a more costly assistive living center.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is happy to work with any type of family arrangement. We are able to provide round-the-clock or scheduled care for any patient, such as coming over a certain number of hours each week for different services.
We also can provide respite care, which can involve one of our employees coming to provide temporary care for your loved one or loved ones while you take a break, run errands or do anything you want to do outside of your home. Even a few hours can give you an opportunity to catch your breath, refresh yourself and know that they’ll be in good hands until you get back.
Taking advantage of this type of service can help reduce burnout, which is common among caregivers, whether they’re helping older or younger people or both. It can also be a nice break for the patient as well to have someone else filling in.
It never hurts to learn more about the different types of care available and the challenges of working with both generations, and this month is a great opportunity.
July is Sandwich Generation Month, which is when people are encouraged to learn more about available resources for caregivers.
It’s also an opportunity for people who are already taking care of different generations to learn that they’re not alone in their challenges even if they may feel like it sometimes.
Learning that others are going through similar situations can be encouraging and reassuring, since feeling alone and isolated is also a common emotion of many longtime caregivers.
Demographic numbers tell us that there are more and more ‘sandwich’ people all the time.
The Pew Research Center reported in 2013 that 47 percent of American adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 years or older and are also raising children. About 15 percent of these are providing financial support to both groups at the same time.
The findings showed that the amount of people caring for both ages is growing, either by providing money or health care or both.
They also show that at least 38 percent of those surveyed say that their parents and their children count on them for emotional support as well.
While there’s nothing wrong with providing emotional support, this too can add to the stresses that people are already feeling from providing financial and health care needs, especially when they’re often trying to make ends meet with their own career and interpersonal dynamics.
In some situations, their children may also have medical needs beyond basic care, which requires more money, more commitment, and more attention.
Demographic watchers tell us that the situation may grow worse. Population watchers say that the amount of people age 65 is expected to double by 2030.
Caring for yourself first
As Liz Frazer, a columnist for Care.com suggests, the most important part of the sandwich is ‘the meat,’ which is the person in the middle who keeps everything together. She continues the analogy to say that too much stress over time on either or both ends can “cause the filling to fall out” and make the sandwich not hold together well.
Some health conditions may even be more challenging over time, such as something progressive like Alzheimer’s disease. As this disease advances, family members may find that they need more advanced care or specialized nursing services that they may not be able to provide on their own.
So that’s why it’s so vital that people who are trying to balance their own lives with care for the older and the younger important people in their lives should make an effort to try to have a focus on their own health as well, including mental, physical and emotional health.
Essentially, providing this level of care for a long period of time can be seen as a job, says AgingCare.com, even if you aren’t paid for it and are always working your own job.
Respite care is one area where we can help relieve some of the emotional burdens. Our trained staff can also help with a variety of health services, everything from massage to occupational therapy.