The Struggle to Care For Elderly Parents and Kids Is Real. Here Are 5 Helpful Resources for the Sandwich Generation

Balancing life between caring for aging parents and raising young children can leave you feeling sandwiched, struggling to meet everyone’s needs.  What if you are part of the 20% of adults who see their elderly relatives wrestle with everyday tasks like walking, dressing, or cooking, yet they get no help? This is the reality for many in the sandwich generation.  Each day brings a mix of school runs, medical appointments, and family management, pushing personal time and career aspirations to the back burner.  A look at what it means to have to balance these two demanding jobs is presented in this article. We’ll explore the unique challenges, the emotional rollercoaster, and the support systems that might just make your dual caregiving role manageable. 

Challenges of Sandwich Generation

The sandwich generation—those who are raising both their children and aging parents—faces several major obstacles, such as:   

1. Financial Pressure

Managing both child-rearing and elder care expenses leads to financial strain, with many caregivers spending around $10,000 annually supporting their families.  

2. Time and Caregiver Burden

Sandwich-generation caregivers often feel rushed, balancing extensive caregiving duties that total approximately 1,350 hours per year.

3. Emotional and Mental Health Impact

Emotional difficulties are common among these caregivers, with a significant number experiencing stress and burnout due to their dual caregiving roles.  

4. Work-Life Balance Challenges

Trying to juggle employment with caregiving tasks can lead to missed work, lower productivity, and potential impacts on one’s career.  

5. Access to Support Services

While some financial and caregiving support services are used, overall access remains limited, highlighting the need for more comprehensive resources. 

Caregiver Support Programs

For individuals in the “sandwich generation” caring for their children and their aging parents, there are several support programs and financial opportunities available to help manage these responsibilities effectively. Here’s a closer look at some key options:

1. Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP)

The CDPAP, supported by Medicaid, enables seniors and people with disabilities to hire someone they know and trust as their caregiver.  Available in areas such as Monroe County, Long Island, Buffalo, and Westchester County, this care support allows the applicant, typically a senior, to choose a family member or friend to look after them.  The chosen caregiver receives weekly compensation directly. This setup not only offers seniors personalized care from someone familiar but also integrates professional healthcare practices to ensure comprehensive support.

2. Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver Support Program

Designed to assist those caring for U.S. Veterans, the VA Caregiver Support Program provides comprehensive support to caregivers of Veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  Caregivers gain access to a range of clinical services, educational resources, and support networks, under the condition that the Veteran consents to receive care from the designated caregiver.  This initiative highlights how critical it is to maintain caregivers’ health and well-being while they tend to our nation’s warriors.

3. Paying for Senior Care

This program recognizes the efforts of family members, including adult children, who care for their elderly parents by compensating them at Medicaid’s approved hourly rates.  The program begins with an assessment to determine the senior’s required care hours per week, which ensures caregivers are fairly compensated for their time.  Formalizing the caregiving arrangement, provides a financial incentive for family members to undertake caregiving responsibilities, thereby supporting both the caregiver and the senior.

4. Medicaid State Plans and Structured Family Caregiving

Medicaid State Plans offer various options for family members or friends acting as caregivers to become paid for their services.  One notable option is Structured Family Caregiving, which varies by state and may also be referred to as adult foster care or monitored in-home caregiving among other names.  These programs provide financial support to primary caregivers who are responsible for providing continuous supervision and assistance with everyday activities like bathing, dressing, and eating.  The arrangement promotes a caregiving environment that is both familial and professional, ensuring that caregivers are supported both emotionally and financially.

5. Dementia Caregiver Support Program

The Dementia Caregiver Program provides a comprehensive, searchable database designed to connect family caregivers with resources specifically for dementia care.  The database lists vetted programs nationwide, offering crucial information and support tailored to the unique challenges of dementia caregiving.  It serves as a resource for healthcare providers, community organizations, funders, and policymakers to access and distribute high-quality caregiving information and support services.  This platform ensures that caregivers have the necessary tools and knowledge to manage the complexities of dementia care effectively.