Caring for little ones and the elderly, the Sandwich Generation has much on its plate. Support your employees by offering companion care.
As an employer, it’s important to recognize that work-life balance may look slightly different for full-time staff responsible for caring for loved ones. The so-called “Sandwich Generation” face a particular set of challenges. They don't get to relax when they clock out of their jobs. Instead, they have to juggle the logistics of child care and supporting elderly, sick, or disabled family members. It’s no wonder that companies offering companion care for this group will nurture more satisfied, productive, and engaged employees.
The Sandwich Generation refers to those people who have the two-fold responsibility of raising children as well as caring for their own aging parents.
The Challenges Faced by the Sandwich Generation
If you’re part of the sandwich generation, you’re likely smooshed between older—and younger—family members. You have children who can’t yet care for themselves; on the other hand, you have parents or other relatives who’ve become either physically or mentally limited due to age. This group of 40- to 60-year-olds not only needs to manage their career, finances, and personal issues, but they must also ensure the well-being of their loved ones.
Living with this responsibility can be highly stressful—both emotionally and financially. The Sandwich Generation has to deal with several challenges in caring for both children and parents.
Time and Energy Management
Between the responsibilities of work, family, and caring for others, many caregivers run out of time and energy for themselves. Childcare and eldercare services often have clear scheduling boundaries. And even if a caregiver can afford extra help or companion care to support a loved one while they work, they’ll likely feel extra pressure to be home in time to pick up their child or visit with a parent.
For similar reasons, a caregiver might run late to work when dropping off a child at daycare. They’ll also need flexible hours to assist a parent who may be moving into a nursing facility—or perhaps time to take them to a hospital or a doctor’s appointment. An employee in the Sandwich Generation literally has more tasks to take care of every 24 hours. Free time is a luxury they can’t include in their schedule. This lack of self-care increases stress and decreases productivity due to burnout.
Caregiving is expensive. For families with children under the age of five, daycare can be costly—if not unaffordable. The childcare industry was already overwhelmed pre-pandemic. Now, the obstacles faced by pre-k and daycare facilities are likely worse. In some states, even those families who can afford care end up on a waitlist. Elder care is also exorbitant. And in the best-case scenario, where an older person can rely on their savings for care, members of the Sandwich Generation may still feel the financial impact. Strikingly, around 30% of caregivers say they’ve had to make a career or financial sacrifice to provide adequate support to an aging relative.
The work can be emotionally exhausting too. Caregivers often become the primary advocate for all family members, supporting everything from schooling to legal considerations. In some cases, they are the legal guardians of their children and hold a power of attorney for their elder relatives. These are not light responsibilities. Caregivers have to sit with the weight of other people’s lives on their shoulders. Moreover, these are people they love, and it’s natural to worry about your loved ones. Unfortunately, this type of pressure may lead to feelings of guilt—adding to the stress and the potential for burnout.
Lack of Support
Members of the Sandwich Generation aren’t just financially and emotionally stressed—they also feel isolated and unsupported. For instance, they’re frequently the only family member able to help out with elder care.
Asking for help or delegating tasks can be emotionally challenging. In addition, caregivers tend to be so caught up in their responsibilities that they cannot find help. And that’s if help is even available to them. This lack of support takes an emotional toll, leaving caregiver employees feeling lonely and depressed.
Each of these stressors on its own would drain someone’s energy. All four combined create a hurricane of responsibilities. In fact, many caregivers opt to leave their place of employment to give themselves more time to care for the family.
How Companion Care Can Help the Sandwich Generation
Companion care provides care, comfort, and fellowship for older individuals who may be limited socially, mentally, or physically. Depending on the situation, the carer may also help with various activities, such as cleaning, feeding, personal care, and running errands. However, their primary intention is to offer friendship.
Some specific ways companion care can help support the Sandwich Generation include:
- Daily Task Management. A Companion care provider can take some of the logistical load off the caregiver’s shoulders. For example, basics like meal prep and light housekeeping to let them spend quality time with their loved ones.
- Time off duty. Some elderly folks can’t be left alone. A companion carer can give the family caregiver a break to relax and re-center themselves.
- Emotional Support. Many older adults feel lonely or isolated, so having someone to talk to can brighten their days. In addition, companions can provide emotional support for caregivers by listening to their problems in times of stress.
- Personalized Care. Companion care isn’t a copy-and-paste gig. The needs of every family are different. Care providers will work with families to create the best fit for their specific situation.
Offer Support for Employees
As an employer, there are two clear ways to support your staff members who fall in the Sandwich Generation. First, model understanding by breaking the stigmas around caregiving. Some employees may feel ashamed to bring up their situation because they fear being viewed as less capable. Provide a safe space for them to share issues with family members and mental health challenges. Employee resource groups and health benefits, including mental health coverage, can shift the culture and ensure staff feels more supported.
Second, offering companion care as a benefit, even for remote workers, will help them be more productive—while increasing job satisfaction and reducing costly turnover. As you start or expand your companion care offerings, ensure they are clearly communicated, so employees don’t have to weed through the fine print to find the extra support they need.
Call Emmy to Support Your Employees
Now’s a good time to consider how you’ll support your employees with companion care. As we get closer to 2030, the number of people over 65 will start to outnumber those under 18. The Baby Boomer generation is getting older and will rely on their families (your employees) for support.
Call Emmy has a network of vetted care providers. Work with us to organize simple and thoughtful companion care for your employees. Our helpers can assist with housework, companionship, and personal care to provide your employees with some real respite. Allow them to use their days off for real days off.
Let our professionals help you. Reach out today to learn about Call Emmy and how they can partner with your company