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Family 411: The sandwich generation

CINCINNATI (Sheila Gray) -- More Americans than ever are living in the "sandwich generation."
That means you have responsibilities for at least one child and one aging parent.  The stress can take its toll on the caregivers.
The Pew Research Center says nearly half of American adults in their 40's and 50's have a parent who's 65 or older, while either raising a young child, or financially supporting a grown child.  Dr. Julie Schaefer knows the burden of the sandwich generation.  Julie has three sons, one in college, a mother with Alzheimer's, and a dad who often needs help taking care of her.

She says, "It's very stressful."

Jenny MacDougall started caring for her parents while still working full-time as a teacher.  Her 92-year-old mother lives in a senior facility, but Jenny helps with her medicine, laundry, bathing, and transportation several times a week.

Jenny's mother, Maybel Lawson, said, "She's given a lot of her time to taking care of me, and I'm very appreciative."

The National Center on Care-giving says 75 percent of the sandwich generation caregivers are women.  Most work full time, and many routinely neglect their own needs.

Dr. Julie Schaefer said, "They don't go to the doctor like they should.  They don't exercise like they should."

Julie's not just living it.  She also sees it in her medical practice, "I see a lot of patients with anxiety, insomnia."  

Kathy Smith started a business after taking care of her parents and aunt.  Seniors Resource Hub has check lists for choosing care facilities, and downsizing and moving. 

Kathy Smith said, "Everybody seems to start from ground zero."

And her e-health repository puts all of a senior's medical information, contacts, even important documents together in one place, saving time at the doctor or hospital.  Getting organized was a way for Kathy to manage her role as caregiver.  Jenny says a support network helped.

Despite the stress, these women treasure the time with loved ones.  All three women in our story say having a support network is crucial, and Doctor Schaefer says regular exercise is her number one way of fighting stress and anxiety.

For links to Seniors Resource Hub products and resources for caregivers CLICK HERE.

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