The “Sandwich Generation” Part 1
We’ve heard of the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, but who is the somewhat forgotten Sandwich Generation? We are constantly reading articles and seeing via the media’s watchful eye what Gen Y is up to and how the Baby Boomers are affecting the property market, but why has the Sandwich Generation been left out of the mix?
If you’re wondering who this group of people is, I can sum them up in one word – caretakers.
That’s right, the Sandwich Generation are the 50 – 65 year olds who are coming to terms with their parents limitations brought about by old age at the same time juggling their now grown up children’s adult responsibilities that come with home ownership, marriage and raising a family to name a few.
In essence, the Sandwich Generation have become the caretakers or guardians on both sides of the fence, hence the tag, “Sandwich”.
Right about the time the kids are getting married, buying investment properties, and setting up their own lives which open a completely new chapter of challenges, mum and dad start having difficulties at home, which raise a whole other set of growing concerns for this group who thought they were out of the woods. Just when they were ready to wipe their hands free from the years of responsibilities associated with raising their own family.
Not so fast!
If this sounds like you, then welcome to the Sandwich Generation, but don’t despair because you’re not alone. I, myself am on this journey along with the thousands of other Australians who are beginning to realise that mum and or dad are reaching a point in their lives when they really do need a helping hand when it comes to well, life in general.
Simple routine tasks such as doing the dishes, keeping the house and garden tidy plus paying bills become a strain. It’s not long before important dates are forgotten, medical appointments are missed and driving a car is no longer a safe option.
Here’s some telltale signs you’ve become or are becoming a new member of “Generation Sandwich”.
You visit your parents and notice unpaid bills on the kitchen table. You start to pick up on nuances that indicate your parents are not coping as well as they once were, or should be. Your awareness of their ability to cope with day to day matters is heightened because you’re uncovering what at first feels like a landslide of mistakes, missed appointments, lost bank cards, unpaid bills, and unwashed dishes, all going unnoticed to the untrained eye.
You might unknowingly stumble across a credit card statement showing unusual transactions. I was shocked to learn a close friend of mine once noticed her mother’s credit card was being charged every month by five separate charities that she had so called “agreed” to regularly donate. As shocking as this may sound, yes it does happen and if there’s one, then there will no doubt be others.
You start accompanying your parents to the doctor. You’re worried that mum or dad aren’t understanding medical information or their behaviours are causing concerns that their doctor really needs to be aware of. You have a growing concern for their health and how they are managing it. You might even be afraid they’ll get into an accident on the way to see the doctor because you’ve noticed their driving skills and eyesight aren’t as sharp as they were in previous years.
Does this sound like you? Are you your parents new unofficial guardian?
For me, the realisation that I along with my brothers were now responsible for the well-being of our mother was an emotionally confronting time. Recalling memories of my parents taking care of me as a child and a teenager, even a young adult, and now being presented with a tables turned situation was not an easy thing for us to get our heads around. Mum’s ability to live in her own home was now in question. Once we came to terms with our new found responsibilities, the first question we asked ourselves was who do we speak to for the right advice in handling this new and uncharted territory? This is where we started to look at aged care services Brisbane to find some answers. It also made me realise just how significant the family home factored into all of the decisions that were to be a part of this next important stage for Mum.
I’ll reveal how we handled this rather delicate process in Part 2 of my Sandwich Generation series. Hopefully it will help you work out some priorities for your significant family member facing up to these same sort of changes. Things you might find you need to be doing, be made aware of, be thinking about, and the people you may need to be talking to in order to make it through.
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