Three generations of family membersDo you find yourself in a position of both caring for your aging parents and either taking care of a young child, or financially supporting a grown one? If so, you’re a member of the sandwich generation, one caught between two demanding caregiving responsibilities. 

And you’re not alone: According to the Pew Research Center, 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s belong to the sandwich generation. The population has grown so large that this month, July, is dedicated to raising awareness about the Sandwich Generation.

Who are the members of the sandwich generation? The majority of people in this group are middle aged, between ages 40 and 59. The sandwich generation is made of equally of men and women. 24 percent of whites, 21 percent of blacks, and 31 percent of Hispanics belong to this group. Affluent adults who earn more than $100,000 a year are also more likely to be members of the sandwich generation, as are married adults.

The financial burden of caring for both one’s aging parents and children simultaneously is significant, and it’s growing. According to the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of adults between ages 40 and 59 have provided at least some financial support to at least one grown child, a number that has increased since 2005.

Experts say this is likely due to a slow recovery from the recession. In 2010, the number of young adults who were employed was lower than it had ever been since the data started being collected. And young adults who were employed in 2007 to 2011 experienced a greater drop in earnings than did any other age group.

The burdens of the sandwich generation aren’t all financial, either. Nearly four in ten people in the sandwich generation say that both their grown children and their parents rely on them for emotional support. Many sandwich generation adults report feeling rushed for time.

Sandwich generation adults commonly find that certain areas of their lives are compromised by their caregiving roles. Some may find that work becomes difficult to balance with caregiving responsibilities, and may even feel compelled to give up their jobs, contributing to their financial burden. A lack of personal time may also affect the caregiver’s health. And while many middle-aged adults look forward to when their children move out of the house so that they can enjoy more free time and time together, members of the sandwich generation may find that they don’t get to enjoy this freedom.

Are you a member of the sandwich generation? Do you fit the statistics? What kind of effects do you feel from your position? Join us next time on the Griswold Home Care CaringTimes blog for tips about how to reduce the stress of caregiving.

For more information, please review our Sandwich Generation Resources.

  • Ellen Tane

    In my case your statistics are incorrect. I am 64 and single. I am caring for my two 16 year old children and my two 100 year old parents. Being laid off due to the recession frees me to take care of five people, including myself. However, until the numbers in my family change, you are correct I do not have “free” time.

  • Mona Miles

    In my case I fit right into your statistics. I am 46 years old, a recent divorcee, and responsible for providing support, both emotionally and financially, at times, to four adult children and a grandbaby fulltime. In addition, I am a nurse that work in LTC so after a hard day at work, I also receive about five calls a day from various older family members with concerns about their health. Free time for myself is a rare commodity and I always feel like I have to keep pushing on because someone needs something from me. In addition to all that, I still have goals and dreams that I would love to be able to finish. There is just never enough time. By the time 9pm gets here, I am too tired to work on my blog so it has fallen by the wayside.