July is Sandwich Generation Month, celebrating those people who have the double-whammy of responsibility for taking care of both their children and their aging parents.
If you have experienced this first-hand, you already know the incredible stress that comes with taking care of three generations at once.
How many Americans are part of the sandwich generation?
About one-half of adults are providing some sort of financial support to their grown children. About one-quarter are financially supporting their parents as well.
In total, roughly one of every eight middle-aged Americans is supporting children in addition to caring for a parent. Several million more provide care for aging parents at a distance.
What’s the financial cost?
Caring for aging parents and growing children can provide enormous satisfaction, as well as enormous stress. But aside from the emotional aspects, both pro and con, caregiving can impose a significant financial burden upon family members, often when they are simultaneously saving for college and retirement and can ill afford the added expenses.
The average yearly expense for helping aging parents and grown children is $10,000. Throw in an additional 1,350 hours each year of volunteer labor running errands, accompanying mom to the doctor, and keeping the house up, and you’ll understand why sandwich generation adults feel stressed.
How to cope?
- Talk to those who have done it to hear the low-down on how to manage three generations and keep your sanity.
- If you’re still working, check into setting up a more flexible schedule at work.
- Prioritize what you need to do and eliminate the superfluous.
- Get help. Seriously, you really don’t need to do it all yourself. Enlist siblings, family, and paid professionals to fill the gaps.
- Take some time for yourself and a “day off” now and then. Your own health will thank you!