Healthcare and the Sandwich Generation

Healthcare and the Sandwich Generation
| by Kristy Dalechek

Sandwich generation was first coined in 1981 and is used to describe caregivers sandwiched between generations. One of every eight people between the ages of 40 and 60 in this country is caring for a parent and a child. Twenty-two million people are part of the sandwich generation with that number expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Here are Some Astounding Statistics Surrounding the Sandwich Generation:

• On average, adults in the sandwich generation are spending $10,000 and 1,350 hours on their parents and children combined per year

• Sandwich generation caregivers spend an average of 86 minutes less a day on paid work, and nearly half an hour less sleeping

• 40% of adults in the US are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues

• 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day

• More than 70% of the baby boom generation have at least one living parent

• 62% of all employed caregivers say they must make some sort of workplace accommodation, such as leaving early, taking a leave-of-absence, or dropping back to part-time.

• 7 to 10 million adults are caring for aging parents from a long distance

It is no surprise that caregivers often experience stressors like burnout, sleep issues, guilt, depression, and anxiety which can lead to higher levels of stress hormones, more sick days, and weaker immune responses. Juggling the emotional, logistical, and financial aspects is no easy feat; but there are ways to make the process easier.

Get Organized andEstablish Priorities:

Getting organized can help reduce stress. Utilize calendars, spreadsheets, and apps to record appointments, manage duties and delegate help among family and other caregivers. Make sure you have copies of important paperwork such as insurance cards, healthcare and financial power of attorney and living wills. Keep a list of current medications and contact information for all healthcare providers. Prioritize what is most important for you and your family. Say no to activities and tasks that do not fit your priority list.

Enlist Caregiver Support:

You are not alone, and you do not need to bear the burden of all caregiving. Hire a helper. Hire someone to walk the dog, drive carpool, provide companion care for your parents. Hire professionals to coordinate care for your parents or provide home healthcare. Look at adult day care or respite care to allow you time to focus on yourself.

Prepare for Financial Challenges:

The sandwich generation can face serious financial challenges. The vast majority of long-term care is provided and paid for informally and privately with costs running from thousands of dollars per month to tens of thousands of dollars. Work with a financial advisor and an elder care attorney to manage finances and plan for care. A financial advisor can help assure you plan for your own elder care needs and can also take into consideration any financial obligation you take on for your parents. An elder law attorney can help family caregivers explore options for their loved one's current situation and explain how to plan for what could happen down the road.

Practice SelfCare and Self-Compassion:

Remember there is only one of you and there are only 24 hours in a day. You cannot pour from an empty cup. When you take care of yourself, you are better able to care for those that need you. Prioritize sleep, find ways to laugh and take time for yourself. Even 15 minutes a day can make a difference in your ability to handle the stress of caregiving. It is also important for caregivers to give themselves the same level of compassion they give their loved ones. Self-compassion is a coping mechanism. Working towards a balanced emotional state is much needed to deal with whatever new challenges may arise.

While this time in one’s life can be stressful and difficult, remember this time is temporary. Realizing this is only a season and will not last forever can help. Take advantage of the quality time remaining with loved ones, both old and young. You are not alone in this journey. Seek help, take care of yourself, and give yourself the same level of compassion you give others.

At Haven Healthcare Advocateswe believe there is real value in being able to take a step back from the caregiver role and being able to spend more quality time with family and self. We can coordinate care for loved ones, attend doctor appointments, and provide valuable community resources needed to lessen the caregiver burden. All clients and families have access to a HIPAA secure portal that has important health history, provider contact information, medication lists and appointment calendars. A visit summary is documented in the portal after all healthcare appointments. Clients and families have access to a healthcare professional to oversee and help with all healthcare management.