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Sandwich Generation: Caring for Small Children and the Elderly

Family PortraitLast weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day and many of the mothers who were honored then have now gone back to their routines of caring for their children and in some cases their parents too.

In The Washington Post’s “How to cope with caring for baby boomer parents while raising small children,” Allison Klein observed that what was once the sandwich generation “is poised to become a footlong” because of Baby Boomers‘ increased life expectancy.

People may tell you that you can have time or money but not both, however, there are ways to get more of what you need. With families juggling the care of small children and the elderly, there is a need to prioritize, especially for the mother or father who is doing most of the care. Find ways to take care of yourself. If you can afford it, pay for childcare or housecleaning or anything that will lighten the load. If you don’t have money to spare, look for free community resources or swap tasks with friends and neighbors. For example, if you are already cooking make extra for someone who is willing to help you with yard work.

Living in the moment and doing what needs to be done means that we can’t always look ahead. One thing the sandwich generation has to consider is its own declining years. When you stop working to care for a young child or elderly parent, it is likely that you are going to put aside less for your own retirement. Carol Abaya, a writer and aging issues expert observed:

“Let’s say the woman who was working quit work to take care of her elderly parent,” Abaya said. “Later in life, she has less money. You have a snowball effect. Everything snowballs to the next generation.”

Klein also interviewed a lawyer who focuses on estate planning and he advised people to plan ahead. No one wants to discuss it but planning ahead for a parent’s declining years can save a family so much stress and a Fee-Only financial planner can help.