There’s nothing quite like a good sandwich – two fresh pieces of bread, layers of your favorite ingredients artfully stacked to create a delightful experience. That is, unless the sandwich is compressed and misshapen by the stress of the items surrounding it in a crowded lunchbox.
That is sometimes how the members of the “Sandwich Generation” feel, when the life they envisioned as they started their families and careers turns out to be crammed with responsibilities and stresses no one could have imagined twenty or thirty years ago.
On the one hand, their offspring are preparing for college. On the other, aging parents who are perhaps dealing with health issues and housing challenges often require assistance, support, perhaps even round-the-clock care.
Carol Abaya, a journalist and founder of “The Sandwich Generation” magazine, reports that more than 25% of American families are involved with parent/elder care in some capacity. When she started her series more than 20 years ago, few resources existed to acknowledge the situation or to provide support.
Preparation is key to avoiding the most stressful situations. Consider having a conversation with your parents now, while everyone is calm and rational, to discuss:
Money. Find out how prepared your parents are for their future. Do they have investments? What financial obligations do they currently have? Are they prepared financially should they require long-term care?
Health. Are your parents experiencing any health issues you should know about? Are they taking medications or being treated for a chronic condition? Do they have limitations as far as diet, exercise, even travel?
Legal preparations. Do your parents have a will? Do they have guidelines in place that outline their wishes in case of their incapacity? Who is designated to make legal decisions in the event of their incapacity or death? If they have not assigned power of attorney, encourage them to do so.
Arrangements. No one wants to talk about it, but families who plan for their death experience less stress in an already difficult situation, and are better prepared to carry out the wishes of their loved ones than those who ignore the inevitable.
It’s a much more satisfying experience to have all of the ingredients you need before you begin assembling your sandwich, and the same can be said for managing life as a member of the “sandwich generation.”
If you are a Boomer caring for your aging parents, growing children and your career, visit www.sandwichgeneration.com for information about Carol Abaya’s magazine that offers tips, advice and support for those stuck in the middle.