What is the ‘Sandwich Generation’?
When you hear the term the “Sandwich Generation,” most would relate it to food or be perplexed about it, and most people reading this are part of that generation without realizing it. The term refers to people in their 40s-50s working full-time jobs, taking care of their kids, and having to look after their parents in some capacity.
The rising demographic already accounts for about 47% of adults in their 40s and 50s who have a parent 65 or older and are raising a youngster or supporting a grown child. One in seven of these adults are financially assisting both their parents and one or more children. Now, while it may seem straightforward, there are different categories people in the sandwich generation can be in.
The Traditional Sandwich Generation is mentioned above, while the “Club Sandwich Generation” refers to older adults in their 50s or 60s who are wedged between aging parents, adult children, and possibly grandchildren. This term can also be for younger adults in their 30s or 40s with young children, elderly parents, and elderly grandparents. The last category is the “Open-Faced Sandwich Generation,” which is anyone who’s non-professionally involved in elder care, which is an estimated 25% of individuals at some point in their lives.
With the current economy and expenses, many families can’t afford to send their elderly to retirement homes or don’t trust others to care for their elderly, so most are held with the responsibility and take on more than they can handle. According to a Pew Research Center study, among those who are providing financial support to an aging parent and supporting a child of any age, 28% say they live comfortably, 30% say they have enough to meet their basic expenses with a little left over for extras, 30% say they’re just able to meet their basic expenses, and 11% say they don’t have enough to even meet their basic expenses.
“In the US right now, older adults are, on average, better off financially than younger adults are. So, they don’t always need as much financial support as these young adults, the millennials, who were hit hard with the Great Recession and struggled to get their financial footing,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center. “And now we’ve got a new generation of young adults who are coming of age in a pandemic, and having moved back in with their parents.”
With the financial burden, many caretakers experience burnout and feelings of depression, guilt, and isolation. Others find it hard to play multiple roles, such as partner, parent, friend, and child, leading to psychological issues as they struggle with being pulled in multiple directions everyday.
There aren’t many solutions experts can give to caretakers, but a few experts recommend.
• Help financially dependent adult children get started in the world with job tips, advice, etc. If they live in their own place, consider the cost savings of moving them back into your home.
• Consider having aging parents move into your home to curb expenses.
• Think about providing your parents with part time in-home senior care, as even a few hours of outside assistance can be a lifesaver when it comes to relieving caregiver stress.
• Elderly and children of a certain age enrolled in higher education often qualify for tax benefits and breaks. Medical expense claims can also reduce federal tax liability.