Are you part of today’s “sandwich generation?” If you are in Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) you very likely are. And if you are, a recent study notes that you might want to pay extra attention to your retirement planning.
A recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, found that Generation X-headed families are more behind on their retirement than previous generations were at the same life juncture.
Each generation goes through the time in their lives when they are likely caring for parents while also caring for children at home, often paying for college expenses, and working at the same time. All of this happens right when retirement planning becomes more urgent. The squeeze from all sides, hence the “sandwich” name, creates all kinds of pressure and stress.
And while many in the sandwich generation don’t bemoan caring for those they love, the emotional, physical, and financial struggles that come with it are very real. Some families have three generations (or more) under one roof and others are trying to balance parents who live nearby with kids at home. Either way, there is a lot of running around and reshuffling priorities depending on health, living situations, and financial needs.
Some of the biggest findings showed that the best off GenX families showed remarkably little discrepancy with prior generations. But those who were at the biggest financial disadvantage had such a drastic reduction that it influenced the study results overall.
These are findings that are worth noting for many in GenX. Although GenX sandwich generation families might have some retirement accounts in place, there are other important factors that are missing. For instance, the study found, “Generation X families in 2016 were more likely to have an individual account (IA) retirement plan than families of Millennial and Baby Boomer generations, but they were less likely than the Baby Boomer families to own a home or have any type of retirement plan.”
That means they are losing money to rent instead of investing in a home that would give them equity and hopefully additional funds upon selling the home. But the market crash of 2008 threw many in GenX into a financial turmoil, giving them less job stability and income. Without either of those, a down payment and loan approval for a home were out of reach.
And while many in the new sandwich generation in GenX are on track for retirement, the unexpected financial challenges of caring for parents and kids can take a big chunk out of retirement savings. Parents may require extra funds for health challenges, home repairs, and living expenses, particularly if they did not have enough put aside. And as children go to college, tuition expenses can be more than what was planned for.
What can families do? Even in an emergency, it’s important to remember that retirement can’t be put off. You will reach retirement age no matter what and being financially prepared is a gift to you and to your children who will not have to support you. Your savings make take a hit or drop off as you help your loved ones financially, but keeping your eye on the goal of growing your retirement will help.
If you want a promotion, you need to be ready for one. As you move through each step of your nursing career, change is the one constant companion. Your job will change, your patients change, technology and evidence-based practice will change. Being ready for those fluctuations is the best way to have a successful career.
If you plan for change and actually take steps to make sure you’re prepared to move your career in the direction you want, your choices will be more on target.
Because promotions are the way to increase your pay, assume more responsibility, and move you toward your career goals, you have to be an active participant in the process. Waiting for a promotion doesn’t always mean it’s going to come your way—even if you deserve it.
Here are some ways to actively plan for having a chance at getting that promotion.
Position Yourself for Leadership
Whether you want a promotion that is an advancement or a lateral move that gives you new skills, making sure your superiors know you’re open to something new is your first step. This one is important—don’t assume people know what you want.
Take on Responsibility
Seek out ways to take on more responsibility at work. If you don’t see anything obvious, find it. Ask your supervisor if you can help in a different area or ask what’s needed to advance in your organization. Become knowledgeable about a specific practice so that people on your team begin to rely on you for that task.
Getting certification shows the leaders in your organization that you’re serious about being the best nurse you can be. The time and effort it takes to get certified isn’t just a minor thing, so the work you’re putting in is for your own professional development. Becoming certified is a clear signal that you want to remain at the top of your nursing specialization and that you’ll take steps to achieve that goal.
Become Prominent in the Community
Join a professional organization and become an active member. You won’t gain anything by just joining—you really have to become involved. Lead a committee or speak at a conference. Offer to mentor a new nurse or seek out a mentor for yourself. Actively connect with the available networks and become someone who has something to offer, not just to seek out something.
Document Your Success
Keep track of your successes so when it’s time for your next review and potential promotion, you will have it all available. It’s easy to forget what you have done or when you were praised for a job well done, so keeping track of it all means nothing will slip through the cracks. You want to come to your review prepared to tell your story of how well the year went, where you want to go, and in what ways you’ll continue to work to make your efforts worthwhile to your organization.
With some strategic goals and actions on your part, you’ll be ready when the next opportunity comes up.
As Men’s Health Month closes out, it’s worth noting the disparities that exist among men of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Although some health advice like eating well, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and exercising are across-the-board good measures, men experience distinct health challenges they should be aware of. And among minority men, there are even more serious health challenges as well.
Here are four men’s health problems that minority men might want to pay extra attention to. Knowing what health issues they are more prone to, being aware of early detection, and having a plan to help mitigate these health threats can reap huge payoffs.
Many factors influence heart disease, and racial and ethnic minority men tend to experience this condition at higher rates than whites, according to the American Heart Association. Trying to track and control blood pressure, cholesterol, and other lipid levels like triglycerides will help. It’s always a good idea to remind anyone, male or female, that high blood pressure and high cholesterol don’t always come with symptoms, but are especially problematic.
Prostate cancer is one of the top men’s health issues. Black men receive a disproportionate number of new prostate cancer diagnoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black men experience 160.5 new cases (per 100,000 men) of prostate cancer for every 91.9 new cases for white men. Hispanic men experience a slightly lower rate than both groups at 79.5, but the risk for all men increases with age. Regular checks can help with early detection.
The American Diabetes Association states that while minorities deal with diabetes at higher rates, they also are more likely to suffer complications from the disease. Getting tested is essential to keep track of blood sugar numbers. If someone has diabetes, keeping on top of treatment is key to lessening the chances of complications. Like heart disease, diabetes can have life-altering and life-threatening complications if left untreated.
Cultural taboos around mental health issues can actually contribute to the problem. If men are uncomfortable or feel ashamed about their mental health struggles, they won’t seek treatment. A report by the American Psychological Association noted that of men reporting depression symptoms lasting longer than a year, black men are in a much higher bracket. In that category, 56 percent of black men vs. 38 percent of white men report those symptoms. The same report also states findings that show American Indian/Alaskan native men had the highest suicide rates of all ethnicities of men. This is a slow but steady struggle, but normalizing mental health to deal with it as the physical disease it is, and not a weakness, can help remoe the stigma. Many more minorities lack access to mental health care, so helping patients find care that is accessible might remove a barrier to getting help.
Minority men face specific men’s health struggles, and as a nurse just opening up the conversation around some of these topics can be a game changer.
A recently released survey by the Federal Reserve Board shows that many households reported similar or slightly more economic stability than in the previous year. But, the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S Households, doesn’t pretend everything is rosy.
Despite the overall positive results, which have continued to improve since the survey started in 2013, still shows some areas of concern. For instance, there are not widespread measures of improvement among all groups. The report found nearly 80 percent of white respondents reported that they were “doing OK financially,” but that only two-thirds of black and Hispanic respondents answered the same way.
It’s not a surprise that where people live also impacts their reported overall well being. Of the 11,000 respondents who answered the survey last October and November, only two-thirds of those living in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods were satisfied with where they live, compared with 8 in 10 in moderate- to upper-income neighborhoods. Those with at least a bachelor’s degree reported more stability than those with a high school diploma.
What does this mean for you as a nurse? It brings a different perspective into your practice depending on where you are located. As someone who works with the public every day, you know how the stressors of the environment can play out in the health of your patients. It’s worth digging a little deeper when you are able to find out the particular stressors of your area.
For instance, what are the pressures of a patient in a specific neighborhood? Some patients might report a lack of public or accessible transportation makes it difficult to get to appointments, buy groceries, or find a job. Other neighborhoods lack high-quality mental health care or they are in a food desert making it almost impossible to buy fresh groceries. Still other neighborhoods don’t feel safe for certain populations.
What can this Federal Reserve Report help you learn about your patient population? If you see many older patients, they may be struggling in retirement or they may feel forced to continue working to pay the bills. The report found that 25 percent of respondents who were not retired yet had nothing saved for retirement. Of those of retirement age 60+, 13 percent have nothing saved. Again, minorities reported being less prepared financially for retirement than white respondents.
The repercussions for the patients who are continuing to work to pay the bills can impact everything from their sleep schedules to what they can afford for food, medication, housing, and transportation. It can also have an impact socially and with their emotional health. If someone continues to work past retirement age because they have to, for instance, they may feel a resentment and exhaustion that is absent or not disruptive in someone who chooses to remain gainfully employed. On the other end of the generational spectrum is the younger population struggling to pay bills and launch an independent life because they are swamped with student debt. They may be raising a family and working more than one job to keep up.
All of the touch points in the report are good points for nurses to ponder. Knowing what your general population struggles with can help you ask the right questions to get to a deeper level of care. Some stressors aren’t as obvious (financial distress), aren’t acceptable to talk about in some cultures (gender identity), or may not be easy to bring up (domestic violence or mental health struggles).
As the top patient advocates, nurses can help bring issues to the forefront and can help patients get the kind of help they need to live the healthiest lives possible.
What are some of the top stressors your patient population faces?
The National Network of Career Nursing Assistants marks the 42nd year of celebrating National Nursing Assistant Week from June 13-20. As lifelong caregivers, nursing assistants are a vital cog in the wheel of complete and attentive nursing care. They provide the hands-on, routine care for many patients, particularly those in long-term care facilities.
As part of the nursing team, nursing assistants often rely on their experience and the expertise of their colleagues to help patients in the ways that work best for them. Based on their long-term knowledge and interaction with patients, they are able to discern the slight nuances in providing one-on-one care to each patient.
Nursing assistants learn how different patients can be moved most comfortably and what foods can be digested most easily, for instance. They understand the emotional triggers for patients and the topics or situations that bring calm or comfort. They understand how to encourage patients in the ways they will respond to best. All of this important information is passed on to the entire medical team to help put together the best care plan.
In addition to the hands-on care, nursing assistants often provide essential and cherished companionship for patients. Because they interact with them so frequently, they become an important social aspect in the day-to-day care activities. They listen for vital clues to how a patient is feeling and can provide reassurance for typical issues or raise the alarm when something seems off or unusual. It’s often those smaller changes that can be a tip-off for a larger problem brewing.
With such frequent check-ins, nursing assistants advocate for their patients and have an important voice on the the care team. Nursing assistants who are in the same facility for a long time or who are career nursing assistant are also a source of stability for patients in times when everything else can be changing. A familiar face is welcome and reassuring.
As the national population continues to see the Baby Boomer population age and also live longer, the need for nursing assistants is growing. According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, another 700,000 jobs will need to be filled to meet the demand over the next 25 years. And nursing assistants can work in a variety of settings, from nursing homes to emergency departments to hospice care.
National Nursing Assistants Week is an excellent time to recognize the role nursing assistants play in your care team’s work. From physicians to patients, they fill a critical need.