Pressed and Stressed: Survival Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

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Pressed and Stressed: Survival Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

When your career is reaching a peak and you are finally looking ahead to your own retirement, you may find yourself raising children, or helping with an adult child's college or living expenses, while at the same time looking after the needs of your parents. If so, you're in the sandwich generation, caught between the day-to-day demands of caring for both children and aging parents.

Balancing your family's needs can cause extraordinary emotional and financial stress, especially if you are the primary caregiver.

Caring for Parents

Start by encouraging open communication with your entire family, especially any siblings, to figure out ways to share the financial, emotional, and time burdens. And talk to your parents about their financial resources, including the location of all their documents and accounts.

Keep a current list of your parents' doctors and medications. Make sure your parents have established a durable power of attorney and a health-care directive, which give you legal authority to handle financial and health-care decisions if they become incapacitated, and a will.

If your parents' needs are great enough, you might consider hiring a geriatric care manager who can help oversee their care and direct you to the right community resources, and/or a home health aide, who can check in on them. Eventually, you may need to explore options that require a move, such as an assisted-living facility, a nursing home, or a dedicated space in your home.

Providing for Children

Your children may be feeling the effects of your situation more than you think, especially if they are teenagers. At a time when they still need your patience and attention, you may be preoccupied with your parents' care, meeting your work deadlines, and juggling your financial obligations. Build in time with your children for activities they enjoy.

Profile of Sandwiched Caregivers*

 

 

*Survey respondents who provide unpaid care for an adult and have responsibility for children living in their home. Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, 2019

If a grandparent moves into the house, talk honestly about the pros and cons and be sympathetic of your children (and your spouse) as they adjust. Ask them to help with household chores, but limit caregiving responsibilities. Discuss college plans and encourage realistic goals about the college they may be able to attend. Your kids may have to settle for less than they wanted or get a job to help meet costs.

If you have "boomerang children" who have returned home, be clear about your expectations with them, too. Ask for household help (above and beyond their own laundry and meals), occasional simple caregiving, and possibly a financial contribution toward household expenses.

Meeting Your Own Needs

The demands of caregiving may result in lost income if you have to step back at work or turn down a promotion. Even so, it's important to invest in your own future by putting as much as you can into your retirement plan, and then avoid raiding it to pay for your parents' care or your child's college education.

If you need more time at home than vacation or personal days can provide, ask your employer if you can telecommute, flex your hours, reduce your hours temporarily, or take unpaid leave. Permanently leaving your job should be a last resort, because time out of the workforce will reduce not only your earnings but possibly your retirement savings and Social Security benefit as well.

Try to get adequate sleep, eat nutritiously, and exercise — all things that will increase your ability to cope. Don't feel guilty about taking time for yourself when you need it, whether it's a couple of hours or a longer weekend getaway. If you put your own needs first occasionally, you'll be in a better frame of mind to care for those around you.

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable--we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Copyright 2020 by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

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