Americans have an affinity for labels. Children born after WWII are Baby Boomers, the rebellious kids of the 80s are Gen X and now adults in their 40s and 50s are being called the Sandwich Generation.
Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric often works with these special segments to ensure home repairs are maintained and ensure a family’s safety. “We have found that as the previous generation is working to maintain their own homes, they are also challenged with repairs and providing care to their aging parents,” said John Ward, president of Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric. “It can pose a real challenge to manage it all, but when you have a service company you can trust these kinds of projects can become manageable. We strive to be that trusted partner for the sandwich generation,” he said.
What is the Sandwich Generation?
The Sandwich Generation popped up in the wake of Baby Boomers reaching the age of retirement. The term “Sandwich Generation” refers to the first generation to be taking care of their children and their parents at the same time. Pew Research Center reports that nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s care for a young child or financially support a grown child aged 18 or older, and have a parent 65 or older.
This group’s emergence is due to the nearly 76 million Baby Boomers retiring in recent years coupled with parents having children later in life. Young adults, commonly referred to as Millennials, were hit by the recession in the prime of life causing them to return home instead of becoming self-sufficient. The sluggish recovery of the economy has kept Millennials at home longer and helped sandwich their parents between two generations.
This new found responsibility for middle-aged adults has come as a shock and, often, a burden. To help with the difficulty of caring for multiple generations, often under the same roof, here are tips to consider as you or family navigates these changing roles.
Safety must be the first concern and at the top of any list when taking over in the primary care and oversight for elderly family members. An assessment of living arrangements, whether in the home with you or not, is necessary. Understanding these limitations and options can assist in making decisions for everyone involved.
Budgeting is another area that can pose challenges. Healthcare, transportation and even food can all be altered or changed with varying home demographics. Determining exactly how much a family will spend on elderly parents and grown children is vital to maintaining sanity and making sure future savings are not depleted. Regular maintenance of the homes is all part of this budgeting process so no surprises pop up unexpectedly.
“We recommend people treat their homes much like a car with regular, annual maintenance of their furnace and cooling systems,” Ward said. “We find those that do regularly maintain their home systems have greater efficiency and longevity of their most essential home systems.”
Pride can be a challenge for those struggling to balance two extremes of a household. The elderly can’t let go of their independence and Millennials are striving to achieve it. This can be trying to respect those needs, yet still ensure the best environment is maintained. Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric recommends making simple modifications to address these needs such as shower hand rails and removing any fall hazards like throw rugs.
Other simple adjustments to improve elderly parents’ quality of life include having a bathroom light on to assist any night time trips to the bathroom and prevent falls. Other quick fixes may include setting coffee makers and other appliances on a timer so they are not left on accidentally. Use headphones with the television so elderly parents can hear and set your telephone ring longer and louder so there is time to reach the phone.
“There is a lot of technology that can be used in a home today to reduce risk and increase savings,” said Ward. “Programmable thermostats are just one of the ways people can improve their overall comfort and efficiency.” Applewood also provides free battery replacement on CO detectors and fire alarms with any service call. “These small touches ensure our customers are safe at all times,” he said.
Finally, it can be hard, but probably the most important thing to remember – take care of yourself! It’s tempting to put another’s needs before your own. Maintaining a balance between work and play is essential and scheduling time for yourself while communicating with aging parents and active young professionals will help everyone maintain their sanity.
The best part of being in the sandwich generation is that there are many resources available to you to work through the changes that may be needed. Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric can help assess modifications to bathrooms, install necessary outdoor lighting or motion-sensitive lighting, and ensure your furnace or air conditioning systems are up to par so you can focus on the caregiving instead of home repairs and maintenance. If you want to schedule an appointment with a licensed technician, call 303-232-6611.