Discussions encompassing the sandwich generation have become unavoidable in many Singaporean families. While the aging population is a growing concern, the issues behind the expanding sandwich generation have also been on the rise and presents its own unique set of difficulties.
Who Are The Sandwich Generation?
The Sandwich Generation comprised of working adults from around 35 to 60 years of age, who have to take care of both their kids and aging parents simultaneously.
People who fall under this classification are caught in-between the commitment of caring for their kids who need emotional, physical, and financial help from their birth to early adulthood, and their aging parents who might require financial help with their daily expenses and physical help with some of their daily activities.
Challenges Faced by the Sandwich Generation
1. Rising Financial Pressures From Two Dependent Generations
Raising our children and supporting our aging parents at the same time can place financial strain on the sandwich generation. Many of us have high expectations of the lifestyle we lead in Singapore. As we are paying for our own family needs along with our parents’ medical expenses and children’s education fees, the financial burden can be overwhelming.
2. Balancing A Full-time Job with Family Care
Balancing home and work is already a challenging task. The responsibility of taking care of our kids and aging parents may greatly affect all aspects of our life from our work, the relationship we have with our children, and the quality of care we are giving to our parents.
To achieve balance between our work and family responsibilities, we might have to consider flexible working arrangements so that we can better manage our family commitments.
3. Adverse Effects On Our Mental Health
As a caregiver, some of us may feel mentally tired when trying to take care of our parents’ needs, be it physically, emotionally or financially.
Thus, after prolong periods of caregiving, we may fail to take care of our own wellbeing. As a result, the toll on our mental health can be overwhelming and make us depressed.
Furthermore, younger children may not understand the challenges faced by working adults. Arguments among family members may arise in the midst of mounting pressure.
4. Personal Life Taking A Backseat
It is not easy to devote almost every second of our lives caring for others, even though they are our closest loved ones. Dreams and personal life goals may be shelved when we are faced with the family obligation to take care of 3 generations at the same time.
This can undoubtedly lead to burnout when our own individual needs are not met and there isn’t sufficient time for ourselves.
How Can We Avoid Becoming A Part Of The Sandwiched Generation?
Many Singaporeans may wonder if it is possible to take care of our aging parents, give the best to our children, and at the same time find the time and space to enjoy life ourselves. While it may be challenging, it is definitely possible to strike a delicate balance among these 3 requirements.
1. Have Regular Discussions On Our Finances
Managing cash flow is definitely not easy if we are to take care of ourselves, our children and our parents at the same time. Therefore, it is important to be open and upfront with our spouses, siblings, parents and children when the need arises.
To manage this aspect, tracking and monitoring daily expenses will be necessary to give everyone a good idea on how money has been spent and what lifestyle changes need to be make so that almost our needs can be fulfilled as much as possible.
Money matters is never an easy and simple discussion among family members. While everyone has their own unique financial position, the sharing of responsibilities should be discussed openly to avoid ill feelings and conflicts. This open conversation can help us to define limits on what we can offer.
2. Purchase Adequate Insurance Coverage
Having an appropriate insurance portfolio for ourselves and our family can help to shield us from any possible financial difficulty during unforeseen circumstances.
It is important for us to consider the healthcare needs of our parents and the education needs of our children while securing our own protection needs.
3. Plan For Our Own Retirement
To avoid the situation repeating itself with our children, it is advisable to plan for your own retirement needs as soon as possible. This should be one of the top priorities when we start working out our finances.
Starting early gives our cash more time to compound and grow our nest egg. With adequate retirement planning, it will not add to our children’s financial burden when they become working adults.
In addition, our children can also feel assured that their parents’ financial needs, be it medical or daily expenses are met with their own retirement portfolio.
4. Getting External Professional Help
If our finances allows us to hire a private caregiver to take care of our aging parents, this may take the burden off our load. This is a practical solution for many of us who need to work and have dual incomes in order to support all these obligations.
Besides caregiving services, we can use medical escort services to bring our parents to regular scheduled medical checkups. This can free up our time to ensure we can balance our work commitment and family responsibilities.
The above are some of the possible suggestions we can explore to reduce the draining effects of being part of the sandwiched generation, having to take care of our parents, ourselves and our children at the same time. It is definitely challenging to be in such a position in Singapore. But with the right planning, we can overcome these challenges.