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Relationships & Family Guide

Cary Cook BSN RN

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The Sandwich Generation

By Rachel Wernick
 
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With the struggles of today’s economy and the life expectancy of the population increasing, there are huge demands surfacing for caregivers of the elderly. A popular term for senior caregiving is known as the “Sandwich Generation," which means a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting and caring for their own children and family.

Currently, the typical American Sandwich Generation caregiver is in her mid-forties, married, employed and cares for her family and elderly parent, usually her mother. There are also men that find themselves in this role at times. The demanding role of being a caregiver spreads across all racial, gender, age and ethnic boundaries.

Since the adoption of the National Family Caregiver Support Program in 2000, there have been many news articles and points of interests written about the family caregiver and their many different roles within the family and the community. It has been estimated that American families provide 80 to 90 percent of all in home long term care services for their aging family members, disabled adult children and other loved ones. Some of these services may include:
-Assistance with activities of daily living
-Medical services coordination
-Medical supervision
-Administration of medications and assistance with financial, legal, spiritual and emotional concerns

These services are priceless and the family caregivers that provide them often go unrecognized and are over utilized which can lead to tremendous stress for the family caregiver. On the other hand, if these same services were provided by our national health care system, it would cost approximately 250 billion dollars per year.

Some common stressors that affect both urban and rural sandwich generation caregivers include:
1. How do I split my time between my children, family and my elder loved one?
2. How much of my time is too much time in each caregiving role?
3. How do I find time for my marriage?
4. How do I find time for myself?
5. How do I keep peace between my children and my elder loved one?
6. How do I find the resources that I need for myself and my loved ones?

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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