The term “Sandwich Generation” refers to a generation of people who support their own children, while caring for their aging parents. According to the Pew Research Center, just about 1 out of every 8 Americans between 40-60 years of age is raising a child and caring for a parent at the same time. Also, between 7-10 million adults are caring for their parents from a long distance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, older Americans ages 65 and up will double by the year 2030 to over 70 million. This indicates that more families will be caught in a Sandwich Generation. The term Sandwich Generation was coined by Dorothy A. Miller in 1981.
Carol Abaya M.A., an expert on the Sandwich Generation, described 3 scenarios of this definition:
– Traditional: Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and or help as well as caring for their own children.
– Club Sandwich: These are people between the ages of 50-60 with aging parents, adult children, and grandchildren or those in their 30s and 40s with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
– Open faced: Refers to anyone else involved in elder care.
It can be very difficult to save for your own retirement and pay your own bills during an economic downturn. It is even more difficult to juggle responsibilities in providing for your own financial future while helping your elderly parents and children simultaneously. Americans 55 and older say they expect to provide for aging relatives for their adult children (according to the Retirement Reset Study by Sun America Financial group and Age wave). If you choose to take time off to care for an elderly family member, then you risk lost wages and 401(k) match benefits and health insurance. This can be a quandary.
Our seniors are struggling to cope with long term care, expenses, and medical costs. Our children, who attend college or grad school, tuition also may need extra financial support. This can also affect one’s own nesting egg, stress level, and emotional well-being. Sometimes you are in a cross road between keeping a full time job and caring for your family.
There are many emotional issues involved in caring for an elderly parent and your own child.
Often times the adult or primary caregiver is trying so desperately to find solutions to both generations’ needs that it can be very difficult when we lose sight of our own personal needs. We need the support to juggle all the different balls in the air. Becoming knowledgeable about elderly care and the resources available can be beneficial in problem solving. Also, guiding our own children throughout the teen years by attending parenting workshops and educating one’s self can get us through the roller coaster times.
If you are feeling overwhelmed in making these critical decisions in your life, consider speaking to a financial adviser, as well as a counselor in family therapy. This can help you decipher what path to take. Attend a group therapy session that can help you in not feeling alone since millions of Americans are struggling with the same issue.
If you are searching for more information on this topic or solutions/strategies, visit Carol Abaya’s website at www.sandwichgeneration.com . This may be very helpful to hear from an expert on the subject.