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Local university holds conference to aid family caregivers in multigenerational households

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From left, Ann Barnes, HR director, Fran Petties, training manager, and Ryan Kolb, training specialist, with the U.C.O. HR department, all worked together to organize the Sandwich Generation Conference, schedualed for March 9, in the Nigh Center at U.C.O., Edmond Oklahoma, 2-18-16. - MARK HANCOCK
  • Mark Hancock
  • From left, Ann Barnes, HR director, Fran Petties, training manager, and Ryan Kolb, training specialist, with the U.C.O. HR department, all worked together to organize the Sandwich Generation Conference, schedualed for March 9, in the Nigh Center at U.C.O., Edmond Oklahoma, 2-18-16.

Next week, the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) hosts The Sandwich Generation: Multigenerational Caregiving conference and resource fair.

Adults are considered members of the sandwich generation if they are caregivers of their children, grandchildren and parents simultaneously.

“I’ve noticed here on campus that we have quite a few faculty and staff who struggle with this situation,” said Ann Barnes, UCO director of human resources. “They get their parent off to day care and their children off to day care. When they get to work, they’re exhausted and not as productive as they could be, which is understandable.”

Typically, sandwich generation caregivers are between 45 and 60 years old and are still raising children in some capacity, Barnes said.

In Oklahoma County, almost 50 percent of grandparents were raising grandchildren from 2008 to 2012, compared to almost 40 percent of grandparents nationally, according to the U.S. Census bureau.

Fran Petties, manager of training and development for UCO’s professional development department, belongs to the sandwich generation. She has four generations — her mother, daughter, grandson and herself — in her home.

“I’m the main caregiver for all of them,” she said. “At times it’s great, and at times it’s very tiring and frustrating.”

For Petties, the greatest reward and difficulty of living in a multigenerational household are the same thing.

“We’re able to support each other and help each other without having to go outside [the home],” she said. “But knowing that we’re there all the time, you’re limited as far as privacy, and the finances have to stretch farther.”

Petties has been a member of a multigenerational household for about seven years.

“The key is trying to find resources that can help you manage and balance work, life and family and still take care of yourself to avoid burning out,” Petties said.

The conference offers resources through speakers, breakout sessions, panels and information from state agencies and companies. The keynote speaker is Paul Taylor, former executive vice present of Pew Research Center, who has done extensive research on the sandwich generation.

Guests can choose three of 18 breakout sessions. Forty-one state agencies and companies are participating in the resource expo.

“The stories I’ve heard [from the agencies] have comforted me,” Barnes said. “You hardly hear good, uplifting stories. There are so many good people behind the scenes that are trying so hard to help people.”

The event is free, but advance registration is required. To register and for more information, visit uco.edu/sandwichgeneration.

Print headline: Hard-pressed, Caregiving in multigenerational households can be vexing and exhausting. UCO offers resources and support.

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