Sandwiched Caregivers Squeezed by COVID

Caregivers often feel they can’t give enough to anyone or anything. Take Judy.* She struggles to balance her part-time job, care for her children (two in middle school and one in high school) and find the time to care for her mother who is living on Social Security and spiraling downwards as her dementia progresses. 

Making sure an elderly parent is safe and well, while being there for kids and performing at work creates stress for many in the “sandwich generation.” The term “sandwich generation” has been around for decades, but today, the squeeze on caregivers is tightening.

'We’re seeing families giving up on finding outside services and having mom or dad move in with them.'

People are living longer and longer due to rapid advancements in modern medicine, and parents are having children later. The pandemic has only added pressure on caregivers: there’s the lack of home care workers. Assisted living facilities that aren’t taking new residents. The cost of services like companionship that can run $45 an hour. 

Rice County Area United Way helps support Three Rivers Community Action, a nonprofit that makes it possible for seniors to stay in their homes. “What I am seeing during the pandemic is that finding time to see parents is a real challenge. At the same time, availability of staff in homecare agencies has declined," said Three Rivers’ Carla Pearson, a Licensed Social Worker. "Caregivers are burning out."

Three Rivers serves people regardless of economic status but focuses on low income families. “We’re seeing families giving up on finding outside services and having mom or dad move in with them. Or a single son or daughter will relocate to live with a parent who’s on her own.”

'When a caregiver knows what her options are, she can be knowledgeable in her decisions.'

With support from Three Rivers, Judy didn’t have to be alone with her struggles. “I was able to give her a big picture of how the pandemic has affected staffing in homecare and educate her about the pricing of county-waivered services,” Pearson said. County-waivered services are programs that help people live independently by paying for services and tools like nurse visits for seniors and life-alert systems for caregivers.

“When a caregiver knows what her options are, she can be knowledgeable in her decisions. People feel better when they feel more in control,” explains Pearson.

For Judy, companionship services were too expensive, but she was able to contract for laundry services and sign her mother up for Meals on Wheels for free through Three Rivers.

She also was able to get a GPS life alert system, so she can simply look on her phone and see where her mom is at any time. Her workload is a bit lighter, and her mind more at ease because she has help. No doubt she’s also able to be more emotionally available for her mother and family, too.

-- Elizabeth Child, Executive Director,

*Name has been changed to protect her privacy.



  • Contact Senior Linkage Line: 1-800-333-2433
  • MN Board on Aging: (651) 431-2500
  • Support groups:
    • Faribault
      • Milestone Senior Living Caregiver Support Group: 4th Tuesday of the month from 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. offers support and resources to those who provide care for a loved one, and welcomes all caregivers and interest family members. Facilitated by Brenda Johnson. For more information: 507-332-7357.
    • Northfield
      • Three Links has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to offer a caregivers support group. Join virtually the 4th Tuesday of each month from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Please contact Kaleena Wolf, LSW at Three Links Care Center to learn more.
        Phone: 507-664-8821



You can help seniors and caregivers:

  • Deliver Meals on Wheels
  • Transport Clients to Medical Appointments: 
    • Contact: Dianne Ford, 507-216-9126. 



Help us raise funds to keep seniors and others in our community safe with essential services like food, housing and health care. From November 1st through the 18th, you can show your support by contributing to Rice County United Way through Give to the Max. When you donate any amount, we will be entered in an hourly drawing to win $500. At the end of Give to the Max, one lucky Minnesota nonprofit will receive $10,000 to use to support their communities. United, we can build back stronger!


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