The Sandwich Generation

Guest Post by Benjamin Lamm, communication specialist and blogger 

Recently, I was introduced to the concept of the “Sandwich Generation”, as detailed by elder care authority Carol Abaya. Abaya divides the sandwich generation into the following three groups:

  • Traditional: Those people sandwiched between their children and elderly parents who need care.
  • Club Sandwich: Those in their 50s or 60s who are sandwiched between elderly parents above them, and adult children and/or grandchildren below them. There is also a small percent of younger people in their 30s and 40s, with parents, grandparents and young children to care for.
  • Open Faced: Everyone else involved in elder care.
It's becoming obvious to me that my life is moving out of the realm of the traditional and becoming more of a club sandwich, with one kid in school, the other graduating college and my aging mother, who lives nearby, needing more and more help to handle the basics. Yet, I'm also ready for a change, and itching to launch myself into the next stage of my life.

My oldest son still depends on the family home to provide a roof over his head for the foreseeable future, as he figures out what his next steps in life will be. The younger one still needs a home base during the summers. There's no nearby family to help with mom, and her care falls primarily on me.

Caring for an elderly parent can be emotionally and physically draining and I find that I must be constantly careful not to neglect my own health and family in the process; that would be a lose-lose situation.

As far as mom is concerned, my siblings and I agree that the best place for her is home and we’ve reached to a Medicaid planning company to inquire about Medicaid eligibility for long-term care. It turns out that there is quite a bit of professional help one can receive while aging in place.

As far as my own future is concerned, at this point, I'm ready for change. I want to downsize the house, giving myself more financial freedom for travel. Try on a few years of partial retirement before it's time for the real thing. I feel it's time to relaunch myself and tackle all those things that were put aside during the busy, and fulfilling, years of raising my children, like pursuing my favorite hobbies; playing the guitar and crocheting.

In some ways I consider myself fortunate. With one son still in school, I have a few years to make decisions. I can help launch my older son so he can stand on his own two feet, and hopefully learn a few tricks in the process to help the younger one launch into adulthood even faster.

Waiting to make my next move isn't just hurting me. I'm holding my older son back by not giving him the needed impetus to move out and start his life, thus setting a not-so-healthy precedent for the younger one.

Yes, I'm lucky. I still have time to set future expectations for my kids. I still have time to open up the conversation with my mom about her ongoing care as she continues to age. Best of all, I still have time to work through my own emotions about the exciting, yet frightening, changes coming to my own life.

Learn more about eldercare authority Carol Abaya

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