As baby boomers age, more and more millennials are becoming caregivers. Many are taking on this role while just getting started in their own lives, leading to difficult decisions about priorities. Proper planning can help them navigate this terrain.
The term “sandwich generation” was coined to refer to baby boomers who were taking care of their parents while also having young children of their own. Now millennials are moving into the sandwich generation at a younger age than their parents did. According to a study by the AARP, one in four family caregivers is part of the millennial generation (generally defined as being born between 1980 and 1996). And a study by Genworth found that the average age of caregivers in 2018 was 47, down from 53 in 2010. Gretchen Alkema, vice president of policy and communications at the SCAN Foundation, told the New York Times that the rise in younger caregivers may be because baby boomers had kids later in life than their predecessors and many are divorced, so they do not have a spouse to provide care.
Younger caregivers have different challenges than older caregivers. They may have younger kids to manage and careers that are just beginning, rather than established. In addition, more millennial men are caregivers compared to previous generations. The AARP study found that millennials spend an average of 21 hours a week on caregiving, and one in four spend more than 20 hours per week. More than half (53 percent) also hold a full-time job in addition to their caregiving duties and 31 percent work part time. Younger caregivers are also less likely to discuss their caregiving duties with their employer than previous generations.
Planning Long Term Care Can Help Avoid Stress & Crisis
Managing caregiving duties, family, and employment is stressful. Having plans in place can help alleviate some of the stress, and the earlier you plan ahead the better. The following are resources you can use to put together a long-term care plan:
• Long-term care insurance can help lessen some of the costs of caregiving if it is purchased early enough.
• A geriatric care manager can help determine what care is needed and where to find resources.
• An elder law attorney can draft essential documents like a power of attorney and a health care proxy, as well as advise you on available benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or Veteran’s Administration benefits. To find an attorney near you, click here.
• Adult day care can give caregivers a much-needed break.
Having resources in place will help, but you also need to be mindful of when you need help. Recognize when you are being stretched too thin and consider your priorities. If possible, talk to your employer about flexible hours. Consult with other family members and do not be afraid to delegate tasks. Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and finding time to relax. For some tips on handling the caregiver/life balance, click here.
For an article on the unique caregiving challenges facing the women of Generation X, click here.
The attorneys at Elville and Associates are uniquelly-positioned to be a resource to those who are caregivers to both their parents and children of their own. The crisis situations that typically arise in these situations are matters the firm’s attorneys address on a regular basis. Should you ever feel overwhelmed and need advice on next steps when faced with being a caregiver to aging parents as well as caring for yourself and your own young family, reach out to Legal Administrator Mary Guay Kramer to set a time to discuss your needs with one of our estate and elder law attorneys. Ms. Kramer can be reached at [email protected] or on her direct line at 443-741-3635.