The Sandwich Generation
“This clever term refers to the generation (consisting of women, in most cases) being caught, or sandwiched, between kids who are struggling financially and need help and elderly parents who are also struggling and need help. These simultaneous burdens on women during the pandemic have heightened their financial and emotional stress (Kiplinger).”
I’ve had several conversations in the past week about being in the sandwich generation. One woman in her late 40s was contemplating using her savings to pay down student loans or honoring her mom’s desire to return to her home country, the Dominican Republic. She recognizes her responsibility to pay off her student loans and her extreme desire to serve her mom as her mom’s health continues to decline.
Another woman I spoke with who is married to an older man is navigating the care of their parents and is now aware of her spouse’s slow but certain cognitive decline. Wanting to be able to serve and honor everyone as well as see their adult children flourish “is exhausting.”
My experience working at a retirement community for 16 years gave me insight to what “old” is. It’s a relative term. I don’t consider anyone “old” until they’re in their 90s. That being said, my parents are in their early 70s. One is suffering from diabetes and the other has declined cognitively for the past five years. Both retired early. One of them was economically prepared, the other one wasn’t.
Even though I don’t have children of my own, I can certainly relate to the overwhelm that can occur when your life responsibilities evolve.
If you’re in the Sandwich Generation, I encourage you to take these three steps to help you and your family work through these life changes:
Identifying what is necessary and ask for help.
Have conversations with your family members. Be clear with your kids about your ability to help financially. Communicate with your parents about your care and concern for their well-being and options moving forward.
Schedule time every week for “you” time. It doesn’t matter what you do, or for how long. Add it to your calendar. Do something that brings you joy. You cannot pour into others from your empty cup.
If you want some help processing your, your parents or adult children’s financial priorities, I’d be happy to discuss this with you. You are not alone.
I’d love to hear your experience too. Who are you helping financially right now?