The Aging Generation’s Impact on “Sandwich” Business Owners

As a business owner who is a part of The Sandwich Generation – the generation that is taking care of both their parents and children – when an illness happens, the impact on our businesses can be tripled (us/a spouse, a child or a parent).  When that occurs, we must depend on the management team that we have put together to hold things down while we pivot to take care of our dependent(s).

In the New York Times’ November 2, 2014 article on the elderly, they gave these statistics derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?emc=edit_na_20141102):

  • The number of people over 65 who died after a fall reached nearly 24,000 in 2012, almost double the number 10 years earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • More than 200,000 Americans over 65 died after falls in the decade from 2002 to 2012. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in that age group.
  • And more than 2.4 million people over 65 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls in 2012 alone, an increase of 50 percent over a decade.

As I read the above statistics, I recognized that I, as well as other business owners whom I know, have been impacted in more than one category when we had to take care of, or memorialize, a parent or older sibling.  It is particularly stressful when a parent or child is in another state.  You, too, have been impacted if you answer yes to any of the following:

  1. Have you taken a trip to take care of a parent or child in another state? (multiply the impact by the number of trips you have taken)
  2. Have you been to the emergency room at least once during business hours in the last year?
  3. Have you had to work from home or leave work early because of an illness?
  4. Do you have children under the age of 18?

I have not taken the time to count up the numbers of hours lost to the business when I had to take care of parental issues.  Thankfully, I have a business partner and a key management team member designated to step in during times of unexpected events.  If you are a solo entrepreneur, your action item is to look at the people around you and decide who would manager your business in unexpected moments.  Then, tell that person and give them the information that they need in case of emergencies.  Don’t wait until the emergency actually happens because it will be too late in the process to update them and will create unneeded chaos.  Additionally, if you cannot think of someone you are able to designate, you know that you have a bigger trust problem that you will need to address.