Remember the days when your children were small? Did you bring a nanny into the home to help look after your children? It can reduce the strain of living & working in a fast paced and expensive city. Sometimes in this scenario the home is modified to meet the needs of a growing family and the “Nanny Suite” is a renovation made to help overcome these challenges.
The majority of our families can relate to having a busy lifestyle that’s difficult to fully enjoy. Preserving our well-being is becoming a key factor in maintaining our personal health and relieving issues such as anxiety, depression and illness caused by stress. If it’s practical and affordable, many of us in working families hire a nanny to “live in” and assist us to care for young children while we are working away from home. This certainly helps our busy families manage the demands of work and the household, including daily chores. We can spend more quality time with our young children when help is brought into the home. Creating a work/life balance is a value that many of us are in search of these days.
As we age and our children become teenagers and then adults, the demands and stresses of living in a costly society do not diminish. Indeed, they actually can increase. it’s quite common for our young adults to remain living at home with parents while attending post-secondary education and in many cases for several years thereafter. This is due to high tuition fees in colleges and universities and a highly competitive job market. The demand for good jobs exceeds the supply leaving many young adults farther away from attaining jobs leading to careers. The lack of gainful job opportunities, the enormous cost of real estate and high cost of living makes leaving the nest difficult for our grown up children to easily accomplish.
This additional stress means that many of us older adults stay in our jobs longer. We are reluctant to leave gainful employment, especially when we are supporting the educational and post-educational needs of our twenty-something kids. This situation creates a vicious cycle with many of us working well beyond our retirement age to continue to meet the needs of our families. This in turn means that fewer well-paying jobs that lead to careers are available to young people entering the work force. Why are so many mature adults working into their late 60’s and well beyond? There are many reasons why this occurs. We are living much longer so that retiring at 65 years seems to many of us as if we are leaving the workplace in the prime of our lives. However, a central factor in remaining gainfully employed is our financial responsibility to help our under-employed children and possibly other family members. This reality is preventing a large number of us who are mature adults from leaving good jobs and high incomes behind. Providing support for our family and ourselves is difficult to achieve on pension / retirement incomes alone.
Let’s examine the above situation – The kids have grown up, the nanny has long ago moved on and the house remains a safe haven for our adult children. As well, we’re working to support our family, and we can’t retire yet because in order for everyone to survive, our full incomes are needed. For additional strain, let’s throw in the demands of our aging parents, who are also in need of our help. Welcome to the realities of the “sandwich generation”. How can our generation begin enjoying the fruits of our labour? Realistically, we can’t look beyond our means for a simple solution to overcome this life crisis. We still have our homes, our responsibilities, our assets and also our stress for quite some time. What happened to that nanny again??? Do we remember a less stressful lifestyle when s/he was there to help? Could this once again be our salvation?
Managing stress as “baby boomers” that are used to tackling the responsibilities of life with hard work and dedication becomes harmful when the demands on us keep growing. Parents of adult children are also familiar with overcoming challenges head on; remember they’re the ones that raised us to be independent. Indeed, many of them also went to war to protect our nation. The most common mistake we can make is forgetting that fact. Sometimes when we get too involved in and even take over our parent’s decision, often it leads to their resistance because they feel we are taking away their independence and don’t see them as the capable decision-makers that they continue to be. This situation often occurs because as sandwichers we see a huge need to help our parents along. So what’s right? Perhaps it’s time to have an honest discussion. This might include asking for assistance; but it is of paramount importance to recognize what type of help is needed that preserves the dignity and as much independence as possible.
Before having the conversation regarding assistance, we should be creating a list of available options for us and our families. We can begin by asking ourselves a few simple questions. Can everyone live together in our current home? Is there a family home available that’s large enough to accommodate the necessary comfort features and provide adequate privacy and space for everyone living together? Will our “Nanny Suite” function as a safe and comfortable environment for an elderly loved one? Does our family have equity, income and savings that could be harnessed together with the financial resources of our parents? Will combining monies provide our family with a newer and larger household? How much home care is needed for our loved ones? Will living together reduce the need for hiring an occasional or live in caregiver? If or when our family member needs professional assistance with performing his/her activities of daily living will our family have enough resources to pay for it? By asking the right questions, we can begin to develop solutions to help all of us achieve a balanced quality of life. Our aging parents might be able to make a commitment towards improving life for us and the entire family. Remember there was a time when we all lived together. It could happen again, if it helps overcome the challenges of life!
What improvements can be made in order to age in place at home with family members/care givers? Considerations should include fall prevention and safety modifications to ensure and preserve long term accessibility for all family members. Contacting an experienced advisor / occupational therapist to perform a home safety assessment can help identify risks and prevent major injuries at home. By taking these steps we will soon realize that making the appropriate changes will allow all of us to retain our equity, live more comfortably and enjoy our family home for as long as we want to do so!