The sandwich generation refers to middle-aged individuals who are pressured to support both aging parents and growing children. The sandwich generation is named so because they are effectively “sandwiched” between the obligation to care for their aging parents—who may be ill, unable to perform various tasks, or in need of financial support—and children, who require financial, physical, and emotional support.
The trends of increasing lifespans and having children at an older age have contributed to the sandwich generation phenomenon, as it has more societal acceptance for adult children to live at home or return home as with boomerang kids.
It is estimated that about one in seven Americans between the ages of 40 and 60 are simultaneously providing some financial assistance to both a child and a parent. With the added pressures of managing one’s own career and personal issues, as well as the need to contribute to one’s own retirement, the individuals of the sandwich generation are under significant financial and emotional stress.
Approximately 12% of parents are in the sandwich generation. According to the researches, full-time working caregivers spend approximately three hours daily caring for their parents and children, outside of working hours. More than half of the caregivers are women, and those women often spend more time caring for their children than male caregivers.
According to the American Psychological Association’s ongoing Stress in America survey, 40% of women between 35–54 report feeling extreme stress, compared to 29% of 18–34-year-olds. Those 55 years and older also feel lower levels of stress, reported at 25%.
Caring for both your parents and your children is by no means easy. But it’s important to realize that you don’t have to manage everything by yourself. Balance your life as part of the sandwich generation.