Sandwich Generation Caregiver Preparation Tips: Plan Now for the Future
Earlier this year on the blog, we featured a two-part series about the Sandwich Generation. “Caught in the Middle” explained the sandwich generation from A to Z; and in “Caring for Caregivers,” we devoted the post to making sure the sandwich generation had the best advice to lower stress and stay healthy for their loved ones. However, what about assistance before the sandwich generation even becomes a caregiver? Today’s blog post focuses on this task: sandwich generation caregiver preparation tips.
Sandwich Generation Caregiver Preparation Tips
If you are a member of the sandwich generation but are not caregiving yet for your children and parents simultaneously, it is best to be prepared. As the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.” If you take steps now in preparation for the inevitability of life, then you should be able to tackle the stress when it comes your way.
Sandwich generation caregiver preparation tips fall into a number of categories that can be grouped accordingly: finance, family, work and self-care.
Finance sandwich generation caregiver preparation tips are as follows:
Plan for retirement. Many people put off any type of retirement planning. Excuses mount, and nothing materializes. Retirement planning is extremely important if you know there will definitely come a day when you are sandwiched between caregiving for your children and your parents. Don’t put it off, but instead think ahead for your retirement from the workforce. If you don’t plan for retirement, you can put yourself, and possibly your children, in financial jeopardy.
Start an emergency savings account. When the day arrives and you are caring for your children and parents, it can become a huge financial drain. Be prepared for this eventuality. Set up an emergency savings account so you have a cushion to help in an emergency. How much money should be saved? A good rule of thumb is to have at least three months of expenses deposited into this account.
Get tax advice from an expert. Once you are a member of the sandwich generation, the provided care can sometimes allow you to claim your children and parents as dependents. Consult a tax expert to find out whether you are entitled to take deductions.
Family sandwich generation caregiver preparation tips are:
If you have siblings, meet and discuss the future care of your parents. Family dynamics don’t always allow for open and honest discussion among siblings. However, when it comes to discussing the care of your parents in the future tense, put aside any hard feelings and make it happen. Don’t automatically take on the care of parents alone. Share the responsibility and develop a plan whereby you each take a shift in caregiving.
If you have adult children, enlist their assistance. Adult children make great resources to offset the responsibilities of caring for aging parents. You can create schedules to rotate help ─ for instance, trips to the grocery store and doctor visits. Enlisting the assistance of adult children also helps set the stage for later on when they become the sandwich generation for you.
For the sandwich generation, employers are often overlooked resources. Research your employer’s policy on family leave, and find out whether a flexible work schedule is available. Having conversations now in preparation for the future can decrease stress when you know all existing options.
Lastly, it is extremely important to start taking care of yourself now before you are totally immersed in the care of both parents and children. Don’t neglect yourself. If you are not well, physically or emotionally, how can you care for either end of the generational spectrum? For more tips, specifically about care for the caregiver, click here.
At Chapters Health System, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to [email protected].
About Phoebe Ochman
Phoebe Ochman, Director of Corporate Communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.
Best Resources for Sandwich Generation Caregivers
There is a wealth of available resources for caregivers. The following are some of the best for sandwich generation caregivers:
AARP created a specific Caregiving Resource Center for people to access information and resources about all aspects of caregiving. Different sections of the website tackle specific topics on the subject, such as benefits and insurance, legal and financial, senior housing and providing care.
ARCH National Respite Network helps families locate respite and crisis care services in their communities.
Caregiver Action Network works to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, diseases or the frailties of old age. The organization provides education, peer support and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.
Family Caregiver Alliance is the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. Their educational programs and resources are designed with caregivers’ needs in mind, and offer support, tailored information and tools to manage the complex demands of caregiving. One of the best tools is the Family Care Navigator, which helps caregivers locate support services by state.
Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving provides caregivers with resource tools, which help promote health and skills. The organization focuses on helping caregivers cope with chronic illnesses and disabilities across the lifespan.
Well Spouse Association assists well spouses by finding peer support and education about the special challenges and unique issues they face every day caring for an ill spouse.