The Sandwich Generation

“The Sandwich Generation – The Cluttered Nest”

Posted on 05/25/2011

adapted from an article by Sheri & Bob Stritof

What is the Sandwich Generation? It is a demanding time when a couple or an individual is still dealing with parenting issues, thinking about their own retirement, and yet facing the issues of coping with aging parents. Deciding which has the highest priority can tear a marriage apart and/or impact family dynamics.

An estimated 22 percent of the American population can be classified as the Sandwich Generation meaning they are parenting their own children and taking care of their parents at the same time. Some estimates show that nearly two-thirds of the baby boom generation will be taking care of an elderly parent in the next ten years.

Many of these couples or individuals face major stress in their finances, emotions, and relationships. What happens to a couple’s dreams for a secure retirement, travel, and slowing down?

However, co-residency apparently does not cause major problems for the majority of couples who are have intergenerational households. With good communication, having three or four generations under one roof can enhance a family’s sense of well-being, provide a sense of belonging for younger children, assist teenagers in moving on to adulthood, and eases the burden of chores due to the extra helping hands.

SUCCESSFUL INTERGENERATIONAL HOUSEHOLD TIPS
■Take care of yourselves and do what you need to do to stay healthy. This includes having some fun and living life to the fullest! Don’t put your lives on hold.
■If you are married, don’t neglect your spouse. Make time for one another.
■Be practical. You can only do what you can do. Don’t overload yourselves either emotionally, physically or financially.
■If you have boomerang children returning home, make sure all your expectations have been shared. Call them to be responsible adults even though they are living in your home.
■If you decide to have an aging parent live with you, again, share all your expectations. Remember that your parent can and probably wants to have responsibilites in your household. Let them be involved, productive members of the family.
■Protect your privacy and time alone as a couple and as individuals.
■Realize that any unfulfilled dreams may cause problems in your relationships. Talk about these with one another.
■If your parent has dementia obtain additional information and explore community resources.
■Don’t be afraid to ask for help from community and governmental resources.
■Start talking now about the possibility of someday being part of the Sandwich Generation. How do you think you would handle it?