Do you feel squeezed between the demands of caring for young children and tending to your aging parents? Are you neglecting your own needs for personal time because too many people place demands on you? If so, you can consider yourself a member of the “Sandwich Generation,” a term used to describe working adults who bear caretaking responsibilities for both young and old family members. Employers have recognized that many of their workers feel overloaded by their caregiving responsibilities.
Most large companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to point employees toward community resources that can help them cope. Cascade Centers – EAP offers a range of services to help members locate childcare and eldercare resources. Contact Cascade to determine how we can help!
Below are some of the services and options that have helped members of the Sandwich Generation balance multiple demands:
Child Care and Parenting Resources
Most communities and some large employers offer a variety of child care services, ranging from home–based day care to larger day care centers. Child care centers are the most common alternatives outside the home. Family care homes are another option. Parents of older children and teens may benefit from learning more about child development and parenting skills.
Your EAP has resources on these subjects or referrals to
community services that can help.
Elder Care Information
If you're caring for a parent or another elderly relative, your community probably offers a variety of resources. Home health services, including nursing care, housecleaning and home–delivered meals, allow seniors to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Elders who need supervision during the day may benefit from adult day care centers, while those with chronic medical problems may need residential nursing care. Start your research with your EAP or contact your local commission on aging for more information.
Alternative Work Options
Find out if your company promotes flextime and other alternative work options that allow you to arrange your work schedule around family obligations. Ask if part–time work, telecommuting or a compressed work week (40 hours in less than five days) are possibilities.
Financial Benefit Plans and Family Leave
Some employers offer workplace financial benefit plans that allow employees to deduct pretax dollars from an employee's paycheck and earmark the funds for dependent care expenses. Most employers are mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who need time off to take care of a family member or to tend to their own health problems.
Don't forget to take care of yourself. Your EAP representative can direct you to resources on stress management, relationships, and communication skills. Your EAP is also a good source of information about recreational activities and events for families in your community.
Understanding the Sandwich Generation
A typical member of the ”Sandwich Generation,” is a working adult,
often in his or her 30s, 40s and 50s, who is caught between the demands of caring for aging parents and raising children. The ranks of the Sandwich Generation are growing. More than two–thirds of women with children under the age of 18 years are in the workforce. As much as one–third of the U.S. work force bears caregiving responsibilities for older relatives. And about half those relatives are located more than 100 miles away from their adult children.
Working adults with conflicting caregiving demands live in every state in the nation and work in just about every imaginable occupation. Members of the Sandwich Generation often share many of these concerns:
• The need for information and referrals to child care providers and
elder care services
• A need for alternative work options that allow them to work
outside the traditional 9–to–5, Monday–through–Friday week
• Strained relationships with elderly parents caused by caretaking
• Concerns about leaving young children with caregivers
• A need to learn better parenting and communication skills
• Stressed relationships with spouses
• Health problems caused by stress and burnout
• The need to incorporate exercise and relaxation into their lives.
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