Maria Smith

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The sandwich generation

Last week I went to the funeral of my 61 year old aunt. She was a fantastic lady, always fun and bubbly, and she lived a good life despite suffering medical challenges for the last few years. At her early death, I was amazed at the strength my cousins had while dealing with her affairs and planning a funeral. Being in their mid-30's, it seems so young to have to plan a funeral, pay for "final" costs and generally take over all of their mother's personal affairs. But after talking to them, I realize they have been dealing with these issues throughout my aunt's illness.  They have had to juggle caring for their own families and their mom for the last few years. I have heard about the 'sandwich generation' but didn't know my own cousins were living it.

The sandwich generation includes people who are still caring for children at home while also having to take on responsibility for taking care of a parent. On Huffingtonpost, Dr. Bruce Chernoff said "While we all like to picture ourselves growing older in a healthy way, the reality is that 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need help with daily activities at some point in their lives -- for an average of three years."  Yikes!

Honestly, this is another one of those conversations I don't want to have. I don't want to think of my parents dying or being unable to care for themselves. I don't want to think about nursing homes, funeral homes, or seeing my parents anywhere but their own home. But the reality is I need to think about it and plan for it. Dr. Chernoff has some great pointers in his article for starting the conversation about long-term caregiving with aging parents.  The tips are for anyone like me who needs to starting thinking about what will happen if they end up as part of the "sandwich" generation.  I know I need to get to work.

Want more info? Check out this Caregiver Q&A on Facebook:
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Genworth Financial. All opinions are 100% my own.