Sandwich Generation

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Definition: Sandwich Generation

Sandwich Generation is a term coined by Dorothy Miller in 1981, refers to the generation of middle-aged people (in their late 30s, 40s and 50s) who have to care/support for both their parents and children. This generation is caught in financial trade offs to put in parent care or child care. 

An alternate definition can be, adults ‘sandwiched’ between conflicting demands of caring for children and caring for seniors.

With an aging population and a generation of middle age/young adults struggling to achieve financial freedom, the burdens and responsibilities of middle-aged Americans are increasing. Increasing lifespan trends and having children at an older age have contributed to the sandwich generation phenomenon. The financial and emotional cost of care can be immense. Both men and women are equally likely to be sandwich generation members

Usually, children require more money and capital-intensive caring, whereas aging adults require more time and labour-intensive caring. This can be a huge burden on the family. With the difficulties of balancing home and work, sandwich generation members are obligated in providing care to aging parents or other aging relatives.

Types of sandwich generations

• Traditional sandwich generation refers to those sandwiched between aging ailing parents needing care and their own children.

• Club Sandwich generation refers to individuals in their 50-60s sandwiched between aging parents, children & grandchildren, OR individuals in their 30-40s, with young children, aging parents & grandparents.

• Open Faced sandwich generation refers to any other person involved in elder care.

People in the sandwich generation face significant challenges because they are supporting three generations at once: their parents, their immediate family (self and spouse) and theirt children.

Other Challenges

Financial status, your personal time, health, and career development are affected, once in the sandwich generation. Caring for both generations of parents and children affect one’s personal time at the cost of mental health. Depression and anxiety are likely risk factors for anyone involved. Sandwich generation members as caregivers often develop stress, burnout and depression, and struggle in time management, and maintaining healthy marriages. Feelings of isolation and guilt in this overworked role is commonly seen.

Strain of supporting multiple family members can have an impact on financial well being as well. Many a time, older parents suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which make daily chores and recollection very difficult. Hence care giving tips are important to help mitigate financial burden, career advancement problems and risks to personal health.


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