Do you have elderly parents?
Do you have adult children still needing support from you emotionally or even financially?
If you answered yes to these two questions then you are part of the Sandwich Generation – the first modern generation to be sandwiched between the care of adult children and their own parents.
You may even be able to make it a triple decker sandwich by throwing into the mix grandchildren who you help to look after.
Many Baby Boomers find themselves in a caring role during what is meant to be the freedom years of retirement.
One slice of the bread is elderly parents. Australians are living longer but this does not mean they are living out their 80s and 90s as spritely healthy beings.
Then on the other side of the sandwich you have adult children who either are still living at home while they save up for their first home, an insurmountable goal in some Australian cities or have finally moved out and started their own families. As these new parents navigate the rocky waters of working life and child rearing who is there to help but mum and dad with time on their hands? A sea of grandfathers and grandmothers in the playground and at Baby Music classes is becoming a familiar sight these days!
So how should members of the Sandwich Generation approach this stage of life?
Here are three top tips to help make your retirement years more footloose and fancy free
- Set clear boundaries. Have specific days or times in your week that you do activities you enjoy that are separate from being a carer and support to your loved ones.
- Get some help. Elderly parents will usually need more care in their homes as they age. Perhaps it is essential you visit them first thing in the morning but you don’t need to be there all day with them and can hire a carer to help you throughout the day.
- It’s about quality not quantity. Call regularly, pop in for special visits but make sure you have the right supports in place to help your parents and share the load.