The Sandwich Generation is defined as a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for raising their own children AND for the care of their aging parents. According to National Alliance for Caregiving, 9.3-million Americans are part of the “Sandwich Generation,” who are caregiving during their peak career years.
The challenge of navigating life in the sandwich generation becomes even greater during the summer. For many people who are balancing child-rearing and eldercare, school provides structure and safety during the months between September and May. This is not the case during the summer.
Navigating the caregiving sandwich in the summer
Hurley Elder Care Law has some tips for navigating the summer months when you’re feeling the squeeze of the “caregiving sandwich.”
- Simplify mealtime. Take your cue from the summer season and relax your meal planning. Loosen up your expectations and rules around schedules and lower your standards a bit. The warmer weather calls for lighter fare, such as sandwiches and salads. Don’t stress yourself out by cooking big meals.
- Maintain summer traditions — with some modifications. You can continue your summer traditions with both parents and kids, if you make some adjustments for all members of the family.For example, choose accessible accommodations for family members who use walkers or wheelchairs and schedule your itinerary loosely.
- Create space. If budget allows, consider enrolling your kids and parents in day programs or camps at different times so you can focus on just one or the other. Or you may choose programs at same time so you can get a much needed and deserved break.
- Let technology help. Invest in some simple technology so you can leave your parents at home while you go on an outing with the kids. You can also let your children play in the park while you sit with your parents on the bench. Examples include:
- Wearable GPS trackers for young kids.
- Medical alert systems that will signal for help if your older parent falls.
- Cameras with two-way talk.
- Talk to your employer. Work flexibility is crucial to tackling your sandwich caregiving duties, especially during the summer. Examine your FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) benefits, which provide certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. Your ability to take FMLA will depend on your health insurance status, size of your company, as well as the length of time you have worked there, and the hours worked per week. This may be a conversation worth exploring with Human Resources.
With a little creativity and proper planning, summer can be fun and relaxing for every generation!
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