How to handle being in the ‘sandwich generation’

Many adults are simultaneously caring for elderly parent, their own children

How to handle being in the 'sandwich generation'

DETROIT – Are you a part of the “sandwich generation?”

It’s a term that many aren’t familiar with: A generation of adults who are both caring for their children and their elderly family members.

The good news is that there are plenty of resources to help people in that generation navigate their situation.

“The ‘sandwich generation’ is when folks, like me, have older generations to care for -- in my case, it’s a family member -- and also have children that they’re taking care of at home,” said Ashley Ross with the Area Agency on Aging.

Officials say that there are plenty of people already doing this now, or will be doing it soon. That’s why the Area Agency on Aging has resources like counselors to help people understand social security, Medicare, writing wills and more.

“There are different organizations, like us, that provide a lot of resources that weren’t necessarily available in previous generations,” Ross said. “But finding and sorting through what you’re eligible for can be quite a challenge.”

One of the solutions the agency provides is a free caregiver coach.

“It partners you with a local volunteer that will help you sort through all of the different resources,” Ross said. “They’re not meant to be another thing on your to-do list, they’re meant to help you get through your to-do list.”

On top of coaching, the Area Agency on Aging can also help with adult day programs. They can even connect rides for seniors through Lyft.

But even with all of the advice the agency can pass along, Ross says it’s important to for people to embrace the unknowns. She says there is going to be stress, so try to budget extra time for your family, your kids and yourself.

“There are a lot of unknowns -- we don’t know how long everything is going to take, what the next doctor is going to say,” Ross said. “It can be stressful. So what I do is make sure I have time for myself.”

Most importantly, though, Ross says to know when you’ve become a caretaker, and know who and what can help you in that new role.

“I didn’t know I was a caretaker until many years down the path,” Ross said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it once a month, once a week or 24/7. If you’re a caretaker, there are resources available to you.”

There are a few agency locations in the Metro Detroit area helping specific communities. To find the right help for your area, click here to visit the website for the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

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About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.