The term originated in 1981, coined by a social worker to describe women ages 30-40 who were providing simultaneous care for aging parents and their children. But a journalist further defined the phrase to include:
- Traditional: those providing care to aging parents and children
- Club Sandwich: those aged 50-60 sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren OR those 30-40 aging parents, grandparents and children
- Open Faced: any individual caring for an elder person
Being a caregiver can be rewarding and studies find that homes with multiple generations engender close family connections and foster a sense of pride. But there is no denying that those sandwiched experience emotional and financial demands that can be stressing.
Statistics reveal that:
- Almost half of those aged 40-50 fall into the category of having a parent over age 65 while they are still raising their family
- Almost half of those 40-59 have given financial support to a grown child in the past year
- An estimated 23% of middle aged adults have provided financial support to an aging parent in the past year
In order for sandwich generation members to survive and thrive in their potentially exhausting role, it’s important to remember the following:
- Indulge in Self Care. Be attentive to your own need for rest and your own health habits.
- Seek Support. Seek out resources, including the Area Agency on Aging, senior centers, financial planners and others, who can help ease the burden of care.
- Plan Ahead. Seek solutions early and anticipate future needs. Consider all the options and explore every possible benefit for which you and your parents may be eligible.
If you are sandwiched and want to assess your own risk for caregiver burnout, take this quiz.