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Sandwich Generation Caregivers AND Help from Little Otter

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Here at Caregiven we have a mission that is rooted in our personal caregiving experiences. Not one of us had the same situation as informal / family / unpaid caregivers. We do understand that there is no one-size-fits-all for help, but we work to find solutions that will support as many people as possible with education, examples, and practical resources to help reduce stressors.

If you are reading this, you are likely a caregiver or know someone who is a caregiver so let’s get into some research and solutions.

In this back-to-school season, there are many who are managing jobs, health, and young families in addition to providing care for aging or ailing loved ones in some pretty extraordinary circumstances. This blog focuses on support information and resources for sandwich generation carers and their children.

Meet the Sandwich Generation

 

About 23% of Americans are “sandwiched” between their children and their parents; they have one or two parents age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or provide financial assistance to a grown child in the preceding 12 months. This care group juggles a LOT of family.

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Who are the Sandwich Generations in the U.S. in 2021?

  • Millennials, currently between the ages of 25 to 40 (72.1 million)
  • Gen Xers, currently between the ages of 41 to 56 (65.2 million)

Understanding the Pandemic Sandwich Generation

First, some meaty research to help set up this particular issue as we think about the 2021 back-to-school time holistically as family caregivers. The research title really spells out a piece of an issue facing some families; “Caregiving in Quarantine: Evaluating the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Adult Child Informal Caregivers of a Parent” from the public website of National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“During a time of economic and social upheaval, caregiving burden is more likely to negatively impact sandwich generation caregivers, especially if there are multiple dependent children or if they provide care for both parents.”

One research section compares differences in subjective (self-reported) burden scores since Covid-19 between informal caregivers who have dependent children at home and those who do not.

High-level findings illuminate that despite the unpredictable, ongoing disruptions, health fears, and unique stressors from the Covid-19 pandemic that the sandwich generation caregivers with dependents do not report a higher burden than those without dependent children. The report findings are a bit surprising given that sandwich generation caregivers are multi-tasking the care needs of two generations. There are some reasons why these caregivers may not feel more stress than pre-pandemic.

  1. They accept that it is difficult and are underreporting their feelings. Just powering through.

  2. Quarantine people working from home may have a crucial lifeline that they did not have pre-pandemic. Multigenerational caregiving does have unique benefits, which can include financial and babysitting help, with resource sharing.

  3. Quarantine in-office medical and mental health shifted from in-person to online or on phone support. The dramatic rise of remote telehealth and telemedicine that delivers remote professional care.

This is where our fabulous partners at Little Otter come into the conversation as experts. The above study did NOT cover what's going on with the dependent children experiencing similar adjustment stressors in addition to disruptions of their routines, school, friends, etc.

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Little Otter is one of our partners-in-purpose. They are the only family-first mental health service designed with a focus on children by a Scientist, Doctor, and Mom, Dr. Helen Egger.

 

 

How Technology is Supporting Families


Just like in-person mental health care, telehealth is an established way for children and families to access mental health support. Studies as early as 2017 prove its effectiveness and some surprising benefits. In fact, there’s recent evidence to suggest that certain types of therapy are more successful when delivered digitally versus in-person.

During the pandemic, there has been an increase in children’s need for mental health services. Pandemic forced adjustments to continue to prove the value of telemedicine to families and doctors.

“Telemedicine has been shown to be a viable, high-quality option for families seeking mentalDr Egger health care.  Little Otter embraced digital delivery of mental health care from the beginning. We’re building an evidence-based telehealth tool that supports child and family wellness. We believe digital-first telemedicine is the best way to truly meet your family where you are."

Studies indicate “favorable outcomes for general psychiatric assessments via telehealth and documented comparable demographic variables between children diagnosed in outpatient clinics and those diagnosed over telehealth.” In everyday language, that means telepsychiatry works just as well as in-person care.”

Dr. Helen Egger - Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Co-Founder of Little Otter, and mom of 4 kids.

We all have worries about the transition back to school. Dr. Helen Egger designed a Toolkit to help parents navigate the new school year. The Little Otter Back-to-School toolkit is designed by experts to help you assess your little one's mental health. In a few minutes, caregivers will be able to complete an assessment of: ⁣⁣

🧒🏻 Their child’s emotional and social challenges ⁣⁣

👩‍👩‍👧‍👦 Their own level of anxiety and depression ⁣⁣

👨‍👨‍👧‍👦 Family stress⁣⁣

🏫 School challenges ⁣⁣⁣

NOTE: Little Otter is hosting a Free Back-To-School Webinar on August 26th at 8 am PST / 11 am EST where they discuss ways families can set expectations, manage relationships and find a rhythm and routine that works for them.  More about Little Otter’s diverse expert advisory panel.

Additional notes:

Little Otter’s services are available to California residents only, at this time. Little Otter is expanding to more states in the fall. Sign up for the Little Otter waitlist here. If you live outside of California, you can access professional therapeutic services by getting a referral from your child’s pediatrician, searching for the child and adolescent mental health specialists in your area, or by contacting your health insurance provider for an in-network child and family mental health specialist.

If you, your child, or someone you know is in crisis, call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, or reach out to the following national resources. You’re never alone.

☏ Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center

You can join in on Little Otter's social media at www.instagram.com/littleotterhealth/  or www.facebook.com/littleotterhealth/ 

Additional reading that we found helpful and insightful:

We are here to help.   You are not alone.  We see you Sandwich Generation.

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