Since Baby Boomers Are Also Known As the “Sandwich Generation” Is It Any Wonder You Are Feeling Like A Panini? You Know, Hot, Overloaded and Grilled Under Pressure?
Yesterday’s post in the New York Times blog New Old Age, and a conversation with my friend “Lisa,” who’s just uprooted herself and her family – moving halfway across the country to assist her in-laws – got me to thinking once again about the challenges of Sandwich Generation Boomers.
It Also Reminded Me That It’s Been Just Over a Year Since My Sister-in-Law Died of Breast Cancer.
Which means our family is finally gotten past the first year of significant post-Joanna anniversaries.
You know what I mean:
- “This is the first Thanksgiving since Joanna died.”
- “It’s my first birthday where Mom won’t be baking me my favorite birthday cake.”
- “The first Christmas where she isn’t running around wearing those funny reindeer antlers on her head, and incessently playing holiday music, while she creates unique hand-made cards and effortlessly puts her personal stamp of approval on the entire holiday celebration.”
- “Too bad Joanna will never get to see her granddaughter get married or hold her first great-grandchild.”
And this thought process got me to thinking about how hard caring for a loved one during a prolonged illness – or assisting them through their slide into eventual death – really is for everyone involved:
- Being there for “Joanna’s” last few months and eventual death and watching her decline was heart-wrenching.
- But just as painful was watching her three adult daughters – each already juggling two jobs apiece, plus school-age kids and spouses – deal with the challenges of trying to be there – physically and emotionally – for their mother as well as their families and their jobs.
- If you’ve lived through it, you know how emotionally draining this is. How you get to a point where you desperately wish you could actually clone yourself so that you can be in two – or more – places at once. Because you know that since you can’t – someone or something you care about is going to be slighted.
- What an emotional “lose-lose” proposition this often is for everyone involved.
No wonder the Times blog post, Adult Children, Aging Parents and the Law attracted 81 reader comments before it was even 24 hours old. You know dealing with multi-generational needs is the primary challenge of the sandwich generation.
So clearly discovering that 30 states have laws on their books governing adult children’s fiscal responsibility to their aging parents is an issue that really strikes home.
I recall sitting in the visitors lounge at the hospital, joining the conversation as Joanna’s daughters talked options with the hospital social worker.
It had became clear that Joannna would no longer be able to care for herself at home, and that her husband wasn’t physically up to the challenges either. So her loving but time-challenged daughters worked to quickly come to decisions for her welfare while continuing to juggle their family responsibilities. Meanwhile they were also:
- Trying not to stress out too much over what was going un-done at home and work
- Watching their vacation and sick days get eaten up…
- Encouraging their kids to “Stop by and visit Grandma” before after-school activities or after work – so they’d have a chance to see them, too!
Thankfully, there are options, in most cases.
Which is a good thing, since according to Pew Research Center reports, there are roughly 10 million Sandwich Generation Boomers in the world: adults who are raising kids or supporting an adult child while giving a financial hand to an aging parent.
The Good News Is, There’s Plenty of Help Available – Once You Know Where to Look:
- From local programs to national organizations, from books to Web sites, a veritable cottage industry has sprung up to assist sandwich generation Boomers in juggling the demands of raising kids while also caring for your aging parents.
- Some of these services are a direct response by the government to meet the needs of the country’s burgeoning senior ranks – with you, the taxpayer, footing the bill.
- Others are the work of smart entrepreneurs who’ve seen a business opportunity.
- Still others come from fellow boomers wanting to share what they’ve learned as they’ve personally grappled with these issues.
Lisa mentioned that she’s been working with a “housing advisor counselor” who was very helpful.
This resource has been a boon as Lisa and her husband devotedly seek a new home for her mother-in-law, who is recovering well from her stroke – thankfully – and her father-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s. Lisa’s challenge is made tougher by the fact that her father-in-law can’t figure out why they keep taking him along while visiting nursing homes!
To start with, her mother-in-law will move from the hospital into a board and care facility: a place that offers residential care for seniors in need of assistance. The goal in these homes is to provide long-term care for seniors who seek independent living in a safe, comfortable and dignified environment. Amazingly, the resident to staff ratio is about 2-to-1.
Not all of these homes can handle Alzheimer’s patients, however. That’s presenting Lisa with an extra challenge.
Even Though Lisa and Her Family Have Been Successfully Finding Resources, She Still Expects it Will Be at Least Three Months Before They Are Able to Move Back Home.
Three months living out of a suitcase, away from the comforts of home!
That made the challenges my neices experienced seem easy. After all, at least they had the benefit of living in the same major metropolitan area. Clearly the challenges of long-distance assistance magnify the difficulties in these situations – perhaps as much as tenfold.
According to the US Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.
But while this act protects you from losing your job, and maintains your healthcare benefits – you have no income coming in during this time! And the FMLA only applies if you work for certain types of employers. (Specifically businesses employing over 50 people.)
Here’s Exactly What the FMLA Website Says:
- FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.
- FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
- For the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
- For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
- To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
- Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to FLSA principles for determining compensable hours or work.
So Where Does the Money Come From? How Do You Pay Your Mortgage, Buy Food, Cover Your Day-to-Day Expenses During Times When You’re Involved in These Crucial Family Events?
With – Or Without – FMLA Benefits, You’ve Still Got to Cover Day-to-Day Living Expenses, Right? With – Probably – Not Too Much In Savings?
Lisa’s a bit luckier than most when it comes to this aspect: She’s an author who has mastered the art of generating residual income online.
Which means she knows her income will continue to find its way into her bank account, even though she’ll most likely be forced to take a break from generating new literary products for the duration. That is: She knows money will continue to flow into her bank account while she’s on the other side of the country assisting her in-laws – even though she has no plans to “show up for work” for the next three months!
Even Better, From a Financial Standpoint:
- As long as Lisa has a laptop and a functional Internet connection she can be in communication with her publisher and her clients, whenever she has time: Even if that’s 2 AM on Thanksgiving morning!
- So if the muse strikes and she chooses to toss off a couple of chapters for her current novel, or a write a post to her blog – she’s only a “mouse click” away from taking these actions. Even if she’ finds herself sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting for her mother-in-law to finish a procedure when the muse shows up!
- Since she’s also an advocate of online banking, Lisa can handle her finances froma distace as well! After all, the income she’s generating is depositing automatically, so she always has available funds.
Whether You’re Living Out of a Suitcase or Not, Having a Reliable Portable Income Sounds Incredibly Wonderful, Doesn’t It?
Sort of like enjoying the lush life of a movie star who lives off her residuals?
Living off income that comes in from work she did in the past? It’s entirely possible for you to enjoy this lifestyle, too, as you know. We’ve talked about this before, actually.
You see, Lisa is one of Gina Gaudio-Graves’s apprentices.
She took Gina up on one of her first “30-Day IM Challenge” contests. And though Lisa didn’t win the challenge, she was hooked on the many benefits she discovered in the process.
Lisa Didn’t Decide to Start Building Her Online Business BECAUSE of the Potential That Her In-laws Might Become Ill.
Of course not!
But the fact that she did take the entrepreneurial plunge, and learned how to effortlessly generate residual income online DOES MEAN that she’s not financially stressed while helping her mother-in-law recover.
And that’s a wonderful ancillary benefit.
The latest 30-Day IM Challenge started this past Sunday!
It’s not too late to sign up and start learning how to build your own totally portable cash machine.
Go check it out now! It takes time to start this sort of a business into motion.
It’s sort of like pushing a flywheel.
- At first you expend effort, but nothing happens.
- But you keep the pressure on, and finally the flywheel moves almost imperceptably.
- But you keep pushing, keep the pressure on.
- And suddenly that heavy flywheel is moving effortlessly.
- In fact, it takes on a life of it’s own!
What are you waiting for?
As a Baby Boomer, you’re automatically part of the Sandwich Generation. If you haven’t had to take time away from work to help a family member yet, chances are that opportunity still awaits you somewhere in the future.
You owe it to yourself to check out the 30-Day IM Challenge.
After all, it’s free.
And talk about over-delivery!