The Sandwich Generation has evolved into a Club Sandwich. The previous definition described a demographic that was sandwiched between raising growing children and caring for aging parents. The Club Sandwich layers on another generation: helping to care for grandchildren.
Upon retirement, when you finally feel like you can take time to pursue your passions and fulfill your dreams, you can become tied down with continuing obligations. Here are some sobering statistics:
- Nearly half of adult children aged 18-29 live with their parents (Pew research, 2022).
- 62% of all those age 50+ provided financial support to adult children, grandchildren, parents, and/or siblings (Merrill Lynch Age Wave, 2013)
- 79% of U.S. adults over 65 who require help are cared for by a family member (Pew research, 2015)
The bottom line is that we’re always going to be caregivers. This life phase produces unforeseen financial pressure, and causes stress.
Here are seven ways in which caregivers can keep themselves healthy and emotionally stable:
- Savor the good. Acknowledge the good things and savor those moments. These do not need to be momentous occasions. They can be simple pleasures such as a great conversation, a beautiful sunset, or caring for the newest member of your family.
- Come to terms with mortality. We all know that someday we’re going to die. It’s the natural course of life. As Arthur Brooks writes in his book “From Strength to Strength,” “We should not avoid the truth. We should stare right at it; contemplate it; consider it; meditate on it.” Helping friends and family transition, while emotionally draining, is a gift.
- Take time for yourself. You need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others. Self compassion and self care may feel selfish during difficult times, and they are critical.
- Save for unforeseen expenses. Most Americans who have saved for their retirement did not consider the other individuals who may need continual financial support. Anticipate these additional expenses.
- Find resources to help. There is a lot to navigate when others need your continued care. There are experts and resources to help. Find support groups.
- Share the load and get some help. When caring for aging parents, make it a family affair. If you have siblings, enlist them to pitch in and create clear roles and responsibilities. Hiring help is also important. This help can be babysitting to give new parents a break, as well as in-home healthcare workers for your parents to give yourself a break.
- Consolidate health updates to share with family and friends. When health rapidly declines, the time and energy required to keep everyone apprised can become a full-time job. Take the time to consolidate the updates in an email or blog post, so that the communication happens once versus over and over again.
Throughout the “Sandwich Years” section of this blog, we will provide you support for launching children into adulthood while caring for aging parents.