What is the Sandwich Generation?

what is the sandwich generationThe term “the sandwich generation” was added to both the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries around 10 years ago. When you think about it as far as a caregiving role, the term makes perfect sense; it refers to an adult caregiver who is “sandwiched” between caring for their own children and caring for elderly parents.

Sandwich Generation Facts and Statistics

With life expectancy rates on the rise due to the better healthcare services available today and people living healthier, active lives, this larger amount of older adults has ultimately created a need for more caregivers. Also, because many couples are waiting longer to have children, with many starting families in their mid to late 30s, as their parents grow older these couples still have younger children who are dependent on them.

According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, almost half of adults between the ages of 40 and 59 have both a parent aged 65 or older and a young child they are raising, and 15% of these adults are providing financial support to both their parent and child.

A few other interesting facts and statistics about the sandwich generation include:

  • 75% of all adults say they feel a responsibility to provide financial assistance to an aging parent when needed.
  • Members of the sandwich generation are mostly middle-aged, with 71% being between the ages of 40-59; 19% are younger than 40 and 10% are 60 or older.
  • Married adults are more likely than unmarried adults to be sandwiched between caring for elderly parents and their children, with 38% being married and only 13% being unmarried.
  • 23% of adults have provided financial support to an aging parent in the past year, with 72% reporting that this assistance was for ongoing expenses.
  • Family caregivers are predominantly women, although there are now more and more men also finding themselves in a caregiving role caught between the generations.

Caring for Elderly Parents and Children at the Same Time

These multigenerational family caregivers often face high levels of stress and report that they constantly feel pressed for time or feel rushed to get daily tasks accomplished. They can feel a strain on their own finances or their careers, with many leaving the workforce altogether to focus on their caregiving role. When you think about everything that it takes to raise a child, from activities like driving to multiple after school activities and helping with homework, and add in caring for an aging parent on top of that, it’s easy to see how these family caregivers can easily become overwhelmed from their responsibilities.

That said, there are also some distinct perks of a multigenerational household. Despite the stress and financial hardships, having both young children and aging parents together in the same home can bring closer relationships among the family. Children get to know their grandparents on a deeper level, and both young and old can benefit by learning from each other’s experiences. Family caregivers often feel good about their role, and 31% report that they are happy with their lives overall.

If you’re a member of the sandwich generation, it’s important to remember to take care of your own health. The healthier and less stressed you are, the better caregiver you’ll be. Seek help from others when needed, whether it’s asking for assistance from other family members or finding respite care services to give you that break you need.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

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