What is The Sandwich Generation?
Not surprisingly, the term “Sandwich Generation” has nothing to do with sandwiches.When modern art curator Dorothy Miller coined the term over thirty years ago, she was actually referring to women in their thirties and forties stuck not just caring for their children but for their parents or in-laws, whose own needs might easily overlap with their younger counterparts. Since then, the concept has broadened quite a bit, changing with the times. Not only does it now refer to either gender, of course, but it has also spawned related phrases referring to scenarios in which older folks in their 50s or 60s can count grandchildren along with all those other dependents. It can also include those same thirty or forty-somethings who are blessed with great-grandparents enjoying their increased life expectancy.
The additional generations, who share lives and sometimes homes, bring a distinctly mixed bag of emotions and outcomes for their members. Family can potentially mean more than ever, with generations spanning a larger range of ages than ever. It can also mean college tuitions, kids living at home later than ever, and Grandpa and Grandma swapping the assisted living or the active adult housing for more time with the kids (or grandkids…).
In the end, what is of utmost importance is that one generation in this concoction must avoid being smothered by the rest. Caregivers must remember that if so many others rely on them, it follows that they must be cared for as well. Of course, all too often the caregiver must take time to care for him or herself, and caregivers are notoriously bad at doing that. Taking breaks, eating and sleeping well, even just remembering to laugh are too easily taken for granted in all our lives and even more likely to be neglected when wrapped up in the care of others. That said, once this is taken care of, there is plenty to be addressed and structure is key. Financially speaking, dependent sons and daughters can be given set allowances as well as career guidance. Elderly should be living at home already so their grandchildren can be counted on to help out.
Finally, with three generations under one roof, communication is crucial. With communication, no ingredient in this ‘sandwich’ will wind up neglected in favor of another. The elder law attorney can be a critical part of managing the sandwich generation. Caregivers need to know the resources that are available to them to manage the other people in their lives. Whether it’s financial planning for younger people, or examining veterans’, Medicaid, or long term care governmental benefits for older loved ones, this law firm’s purpose is to help caregivers do their job so they can concentrate on helping themselves manage the day-to-day challenges and maybe, just maybe, take a break for themselves – have a nice meal, perhaps? Just not a sandwich.
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