On the very day that you are reading this, many Americans called in sick to work – not to care for themselves or their children, but to care for their aging parents. Baby Boomers are suddenly finding themselves with three jobs: employee, parent, and caregiver. People caring for both their growing children and their elderly parents are members of a demographic phenomenon called “The Sandwich Generation,” and it’s becoming a hot topic as Boomers approach their retirement years.
Just how widespread are these “sandwich generation warriors” within the nation’s workforce? Consider the numbers: nearly 25% of U.S. households are now involved in caring for a senior family member, spending an average of 20 hours a week in caregiving services. Nearly 65% of those individuals providing the caregiving are also employed outside of the home. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 15 million days of work per year are lost due to these circumstances. Women tend to be the primary caregivers for their parents, continuing to work full time in order to support their family, pay their children’s college tuition, or save for their own retirement. These situations are further compounded if Baby Boomers have relocated away from their senior family members to pursue job opportunities.
When faced with these issues, it is always best to have a plan in place. Do not wait until Mom or Dad is in the critical care bed or is being discharged from the hospital. Here are a few suggestions for the potential or current “family caregiver” to contemplate:
- Talk to your parents and/or family members before a crisis. This will help you and all those involved to truly understand their wishes. Discuss with them the topics of Medicare/Medicaid and long-term care insurance, and if they have other important legal documents regarding medical treatment (i.e., Living Will, Durable Medical Power of Attorney, etc.).
- Locate any community resources that may be available to you and your family. Your local Area Agency on Aging is a great place to start.
- Ask friends and family for help. Ask them what experiences they have had with some of the community services. Many of these people may have already gone through this and can be of assistance.
- Talk to your local clergy. Many local churches and synagogues have family assistance programs or have access via their denominations. If these services are not available, most clergy are familiar with what can be obtained by you or your family.
Because of the physically and emotionally exhausting reality of balancing your own day job and family life with the demands of caring for your parents, many families also turn to a respite care company to help with a variety of care needs. The biggest thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it alone. Caring for our aging parents may be one of the most challenging roles we undertake in our adult lives. But by exercising foresight, consideration and a little planning, Baby Boomers have the power to create a positive outcome.
When the time comes that you believe your loved one needs some help at home, contact Hallmark Homecare to request a free, no-obligation phone consultation with one of our veteran Care Coordinators. We can provide you with information and assistance in determining the best care for your situation.