About 11 million people in the United States currently serve as part-time or full-time multi-generational caregivers. Members of this “sandwich generation” simultaneously care for their children and their parents or other older loved ones. But the consequences for this dual role includes emotional and mental exhaustion, estrangement, divorce, stress-related medical conditions, and financial strains. We will be looking at a few of the ways to cope with the struggles of intergenerational caregiving.
Seek Out Support Groups
Respite care programs provide another type of support in the form of short-term breaks for caregivers. These programs are not free, but financial aid might be available.
Take Care of Yourself
Intergenerational caregivers spend so much time taking care of their children and parents that they forget about themselves. But exhausted caregivers may find it difficult or impossible to perform their dual roles.
- Give yourself permission to recognize that you are doing two (or more) jobs. It’s not easy. Downplaying your responsibilities really isn’t fair to you.
- Schedule time off into your daily or weekly calendar. You don’t have to take a long weekend at the Poconos. A short walk or quick trip to the local coffee shop or bookstore could be the breath of fresh air you need. What’s important is doing something that you want to do, something that rejuvenates you.
- Don’t forget your own physical and mental needs. Exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep are even more important for intergenerational caregivers.
At some point, you might need to consider a break from work. Rather than quitting outright, talk to your employer about taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You might be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
It’s crucial to take a few moments to consider your financial health also.
Recognize the Financial Strain
Some studies show that up to one-third of dual caregivers spend at least $3,000 per month caring for an elderly family member. Others might qualify for government benefits like Medicaid but need help applying and qualifying.
Balancing the children’s expenses and college funds with the increased medical needs of a parent might send some caregivers straight to their own retirement funds. Before taking this kind of action, talk to an attorney or financial adviser to review all your options.
Ask for Help with Intergenerational Caregiving
Finally, many caregivers may seek assistance from:
- Geriatric care managers,
- Financial advisers,
- Social workers,
- Ministers, and
- Elder law attorneys.
It’s only natural to need some support when trying to make decisions for two such disparate groups – the young and the ‘slightly’ older.
We Can Help with Legal Issues Surrounding Intergenerational Caregiving
Caregivers in the sandwich generation need to consider estate planning issues for themselves and their older loved ones. Also, Medicaid planning is essential if long-term or institutional care is necessary.
Trust your future to someone who has deep experience working with Medicaid. Attorney Robert Slutsky was one of the first lawyers in Pennsylvania to focus on elder law issues, including Medicaid. He’s helped countless people find solutions that work for their individual situations.
For a listing of skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities please check out our Chester County PA Elder Law Directory and Senior Guide online at: