Taking a bite out of ‘generation sandwich’

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Hurrying to get the kids out the door for school with packed lunches, finished homework and matching shoes, your phone rings. Your father has relapsed and is in the hospital, and your mother isn’t handling it well.

You know you need to go home to help, but home is hundreds of miles away. Your husband can’t leave work and someone has to watch the kids. Your parents, however, have only you to count on — and your funds are low.

Welcome to the sandwich generation.

Adults have been taking care of both their ailing or elderly parents and their children — a rough description of the "generation sandwich" — since parents have been having children. This double day care is on an upswing.

The increase in recent years of caring for one’s children and one's parents at the same time may be due to the increase in life expectancy. It could also be due to women having children later in life, or fewer siblings to share responsibilities.

Grandparents and grandchildren may be sharing the same living space because support for children is going on longer than it has historically.

It’s a problem that is happening to the baby boomers, a generation that demands a lot of attention if for no other reason than it is comprised of 79 million members, according to the Population Reference Bureau — an impressive chunk of the general population. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in that group, 9 percent of women between 45 - 56 years old are giving a significant amount of care to both their children on one side and their parents on the other.
Specificly, sandwichers — in addition to taking care of all things concerning their children — are asked to care for their parents if the parents can no longer safely live at home, or need to be moved into an adult care facility.

They may also be responsible for navigating long-term health care systems and coordinating with assisted living facilities, or the hiring and managing of an in-home caregiver.

And care is not cheap. The average cost of a private room annually at a nursing home in 2011 was $77,745, according to the AARP. And one qualifies for Medicare only after depleting one's assests.
Having a separate assisted living apartment is costly as well: The national median cost in 2011 was $39,135, and assisted living isn't covered by Medicaid.

According to the AARP, if given a choice, up to 90 percent of the elderly prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible.

And there is always the option of moving elderly parents into the home with kids and grandkids. There, sandwichers may provide personal care services, such as meals, housekeeping and assistance with activities.

With all the responsibilities and preassures on the sandwich generation, many of them stay on top by following a few simple guidelines.
  1. Get the facts by talking to your parents about their finances and what plans they've made if they’re suddenly incapacitated. Take a look at your own finances as well.
  2. If an emergency arises you'll need legal authority to act on your parents' behalf. Make sure mom and dad have the following: a durable power of attorney so someone can pay bills, a healthcare proxy or an authorization to make medical decisions, and a living will if life-sustaining medical care becomes necessary.
  3. Discuss with your parents their long-term care insurance or savings adequate to cover those costs. The cost of long-term care can be excruciating, with bills reaching $50,000 to $100,000 a year or more.
  4. Spread out the tasks as much as possible. Siblings might divide up the work, with one taking charge of finances, the other daily or weekly visits, while another arranges for shopping and medical care.
  5. Understand caregiver burnout, and have a plan B in place to get coverage when needed. Utilize neighbors, church groups and local associations and organizations. It can be a great help to call up a neighbor and say, “I need two hours to myself, can you help me?”
"It's a hard job," clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua C. Klapow offers. As an associate professor in the Department of the School of Public Health, UAB, Klapow understands the importance of recognizing the effects of caregiver burnout. “Caring for parents and children alike absolutely pulls at people's deepest emotions and can be overwhelming for people. Caregivers must watch their own health.”
Among female caregivers 50 and older, 20 percent reported symptoms of depression, according to a 2010 study on working caregivers by MetLife.

Fortunately, as 30 million families provide care for an adult over the age of 50 — a number expected to double in 25 years — recourses are many and resources plenty.

With the gaining of popularity of such care, there is much pragmatic advice on what to expect on websites like familycaregiving101.org, and sites that can refer to local groups of caregivers, such as caps4caregivers.org.

Source : http://www.ksl.com/?sid=20787321&nid=1010&title=caring-for-aging-parents-taking-a-bite-out-of-generation-sandwich&s_cid=queue-16

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