The “sandwich generation” is a term that was coined to describe a group or generation of people who are supporting both their children and aging parents or grandparents physically, emotionally or financially. While Generation X and Baby Boomers once bore the brunt of caregiving, Millennials are now the rising demographic to take on these dual roles.
If you were born between 1980 and 1994, now ages 28 to 42, you may be part of the new generation of caregivers. Now, one-third of all multigenerational caregivers are Millennials, according to a recent report from New York Life. This is notable as those in your age group are different from the typical middle-aged caregiver. Coming of age during the Great Recession of 2008, many of you experienced soaring education costs and took on crippling student debt. These factors contribute to Millennials being less established —saving for a house, contributing to a retirement plan and starting a family is more difficult.
“What’s tougher for Millennial caregivers is that they’re stepping into this role while just starting to balance their own lives,” notes Rita Mabli, president and CEO, United Hebrew of New Rochelle. “Handling the needs of older adults while building careers and families is a lot to manage.”
Millennials are also spending more time taking care of aging relatives — close to 21 hours a week on caregiving, essentially taking up the time that a part-time job would, making it difficult at an age when you are trying to move up the career ladder.
While the individual attributes may vary, one common denominator among multigenerational caregivers is the stress that they are under, notes Mabli. “The feeling of being overwhelmed while caring for a loved one can happen to anyone.“
The stress stems from taking on caregiving duties like bathing, dressing, meal preparation and transportation vs. time spent working, being involved in one’s community, or relaxing and socializing.
Help for Millennial Caregivers
While GenXers and Baby Boomers may be familiar with aging services for older people, Millennials may not be as familiar. There’s a wealth of caregiving information online, but it is wise to seek professional advice when caregiver stress sets in, explains Mabli.
“Caregiving can be an isolating experience, but you don’t have to go it alone. We’ve been a resource for eldercare in the Westchester County community for over 100 years. Arming yourself with information is the best way to understand your options. We’re always happy to answer your questions.”
There are ways to alleviate some of the pressures imposed on caregivers, Mabli suggests:
- Give the experts a call: United Hebrew’s knowledgeable and compassionate staff can help you understand the myriad options in senior care. Call our campus at 914-632-2804 to be connected to someone who can help.
- Join a support group: Interact with others who are going through what you are experiencing. If you are looking after someone with dementia, join our support group at Willow Gardens Memory Care, in partnership with the Hudson Valley Alzheimer’s Association. Call 914-336-2338 for more information.
- Share your caregiving story: Find comfort in reading about the experiences of other caregivers and share what you have learned along the way via The Caregiver Space.
- Ask for help! Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Delegating caregiving responsibilities to capable family members and friends can help you create your own support team.
- Consider supportive care services: If it gets too overwhelming at home, have the conversation with your loved one about supportive care. Assisted living, memory care. and long-term care communities can provide you with peace of mind. [links]
- Find community online: For the generation that grew up with tech, online resources such as The Caregiver Action Network and Working Daughter, among others, can be tremendously beneficial.
Remember to take care of yourself at the same time, urges Mabli. “The important thing to remember is to prioritize your self-care so you’re well enough to take care of others.”