The “Sandwich Generation”
The “Sandwich Generation” are the adults squeezed between aging parents and their own children, both of whom need help. It is not uncommon for these adults to juggle a full-time job while taking care of their elders as well as raising children (or grandchildren). Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 40 and 60 already serve as caregivers to aging parents while still raising children. Caregiving has its rewards, but it’s also a demanding role.
While balancing the double burden of caring for parents and children at the same time is hardly new, improvements in geriatric care are ensuring that people are living longer. This means that adult children often carry this burden decades longer than their parents or grandparents did. The stress that this places on adult children acting as caregivers can be overwhelming.
One of the challenges of the sandwich generation is money. Caring for one’s parents as well as children can stretch a family’s budget thin. On average, the sandwich generation spends an additional $10,000 per year supporting an aging parent while raising their own children.
Another challenge is time. Both childcare and elderly care require large time investments. The sandwich generation spends an average of 1,350 hours each year caring for their parents and children. When you add in a full-time job, that doesn’t leave much time for self-care.
Finally, stress can get to the sandwich generation. Caregivers who are overworked can be prone to anxiety and depression. On top of worrying about money and feeling like there’s not enough time in the day to do everything, members of the sandwich generation struggle with feelings of isolation and guilt.
To help eliminate the additional stress, ask for help. The sandwich generation does not have to shoulder the entire burden themselves. If there are no volunteers to help, consider hiring a senior care aide or care manager.