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A recent Ask Annie post on poses a question that has become all too common for many Americans: How can a worker who is caring for elderly parents AND their own children get flexibility at work?

As medical advances extend life expectancies, many workers are finding themselves part of what is called the “Sandwich Generation” where their parents need help caring for themselves and their children are still living at home. Members of this group can find themselves needing to cart teenage children to sporting events and shuttling their parents to multiple doctor’s appointments on the same day, all during what most companies consider to be working hours.

For example, the reader who contacted Ask Annie has an 89-year-old mother who has “moderate” Alzheimer’s disease and requires constant supervision. Luckily, a licensed practical nurse is able to watch over her most of the day, but only until 3 p.m. The reader’s teenage children come home around that time, but it doesn’t feel right asking them to give up their social activities to watch their grandmother. Despite having technology that would easily allow the reader to work at home, the boss refuses, stating it would be disruptive to the office.

While the need for flexible schedules is becoming more common, many employers still aren’t accommodating these types of issues. So what is a member of the Sandwich Generation to do? This is another situation where contracting may provide a solution. Many contract assignments are more project-based, so they aren’t confined to 9-5 hours and can be done at the contractor’s convenience. And if a contractor finds that a parent’s care is so overwhelming that working becomes impossible, the contractor can simply opt to not take any assignments for awhile. So, if you are looking for contract candidates, the Sandwich Generation may provide a good stable of qualified candidates.

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