It’s common for adults in their 40s and 50s to find that they suddenly have more responsibilities than they can comfortably manage. On top of income-earning jobs to do and school-aged children to raise, it’s typical for them to find that their aging parents are now in need of their help, too. Sometimes they need to become their parents’ caretakers, and sometimes it’s financial help their parents need. Either way, this can create a stressful situation.
There’s a buzzword phrase for people who find themselves in this situation: It’s called “the sandwich generation”. This is a well-known phenomenon that results from some of the latest demographic trends. Some contributing factors include today’s longer lifespans and people’s tendency to have children later in life.
If you find yourself in these circumstances, the following tips can help you figure out how to balance all your responsibilities: raising your kids, taking care of your parents and keeping yourself sane, all while trying to hold down a job and manage your own household and finances.
Evaluate Your Family’s Living Arrangements
As your family’s circumstances change, it is prudent to evaluate whether your living arrangements still make sense. Perhaps your parents live far away from you, which wasn’t a problem before. Now if you have to drive to their place more frequently to help them out, the distance could make these visits more of a chore than they need to be.
You have multiple options to consider:
- Moving your parents closer to you could be a possible solution for easing the burden.
- Having them move in with you could be another possible option. This would eliminate all the time that gets wasted when you’re driving back and forth between your place and theirs.
- Another possibility is evaluating senior homes that are close to your residence; one of these might be a suitable environment for your parents, especially if they are in need of more vigilant care than you can currently provide.
It is also possible that perhaps there’s a more efficient way to meet your parents’ needs than what you’re currently doing. For example, if you’re driving to your parents’ house daily because your mom can’t easily get into the shower on her own, you might want to consider installing a curbless shower at her place. This type of shower makes it easier to enter without having to lift your legs up and over the side of a bathtub. This simple modification could make it possible for your mom to shower independently, which would release you from the responsibility of making daily visits. There are many simple home renovations like these that can make a home more livable for aging seniors.
Be Ruthless With Your Budget and Financial Priorities
With so many competing financial priorities to worry about, it’s typical for “sandwich generation” caretakers to find themselves short on cash. One common pitfall: Sandwich generation individuals are in danger of providing financial support to everyone else in their family but failing to plan for their own financial needs. To avoid this trap, it will be essential for you to create a budget that specifically includes retirement savings for yourself and your spouse.
Cultivate a Support System
There are going to be times when you can’t get everything done, and you will have to seek help from others. Knowing that, you can make it a priority to cultivate a support system of people who would be willing to help you get through the hectic times.
Don’t be afraid to ask other family members to pitch in. Present them with specific requests for things they could do to help you.
Beyond that, here are some suggestions for Chicago-area resources that you might find helpful when you find yourself over-extended and in need of support:
- Babysitters in Chicago
- Tutors in Chicago
- Chicago Facebook Support Group for “Sandwich Generation” Caretakers
These suggestions could help you to survive the challenges of having to balance raising kids with caring for elderly parents. While it isn’t easy, countless others are managing this situation – and you can, too, with careful prioritizing and planning.
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