How much do you know about The Sandwich Generation? Interestingly enough, many of our clients, including those who are members of this group of Americans, remain largely “in the dark” about the term and what it could mean regarding the circumstances that they and their families face on a daily basis. While the term “Sandwich Generation” has been included in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary since 2006, there still is very little discussion surrounding it. Especially since the challenges facing caregivers in this demographic remain largely unchanged since the term was defined well over ten years ago.
According to research, The Sandwich Generation is a population group including:
- American adults,
- Who have a living parent age 65 or older, and
- Are either raising a child under 18 years old or are supporting an adult child.
More specifically, the research shares that most people in this generation are middle-aged. The vast majority, roughly 71%, are between age 40 and 59, and working full time themselves.
Perhaps even more interesting to note is that experts in this field now continue to broaden the term to include both The Club Sandwich Generation and The Open Faced Sandwich Generation. Although it may sound strange, we know as elder care experts that understanding others are facing similar challenges to yours and knowing how to define what you are facing, can start to relieve some of your stress. The Club Sandwich Generation includes adults ages 50 and older, but can also include much younger adults who are caring for the trifecta of younger children, elderly parents, and aging grandparents.
Further, The Open Faced Sandwich Generation applies to anyone who does not have a professional eldercare background, but nevertheless cares for older parents or other relatives. Most believe that this term may apply to up to roughly 25% of Americans at some point in their lives.
As elder law attorneys, we see first hand the toll these responsibilities can take on American family caregivers of any age. While chronic stress is widely acknowledged as the biggest challenge for Sandwich Generation caregivers, depending on their individual circumstances, financial pressure may have a significant part in this stress as well. In fact, a recent survey found that 2 in 5 men and women in this group feel overextended, and 40% of women ages 35 to 54 report extreme stress.
We know what a significant toll, both physically and emotionally, this can take on you and your loved ones. We also know that when this is a long-term care scenario you have not planned for in advance that it can have an adverse impact on your job performance as well as your relationships with friends and family. As we proactively address what you can do to help yourself and those you care for, let us share a few solutions with you right here in our blog:
- Meet with an experienced elder law attorney who can provide guidance
- Talk to your employer about alternative work arrangements
- Share responsibilities with family and trusted friends
- Engage in appropriate self-care, such as getting adequate sleep and exercising
- Join a support group or seek other types of counseling
- Talk to your parents about their long-term care plans
- Encourage your parents to keep their estate planning current
Remember, there is no such thing as the wrong time to ask questions and get the support you need. We work with Arkansas seniors and their families, and we understand your concerns and encourage you to share them with us. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment at any time.