There is a name for the people caught between two large generations of people: The Sandwich Generation. It’s generally the caregivers getting squeezed. And this time, the numbers are adding up.
The Sandwich Generation is made up of people who have the dual responsibilities of taking care of an aging parent, while still caring for children in the home. And with the average life span of older adults increasing, and children continuing to live at home after high school (and even through college and beyond), this group is growing.
More and more households in America are holding three generations once again. But that’s creating lots of emotional stress on the ones caught in the middle. Is there a way to stay sane while taking care of those you love?
The Mental Effect of Being “Sandwiched”
According to a 2017 report on sandwich generation demographics by the Pew Research Center, more than one in 10 adults with a child under 18 also care for aging parents. Caring for people with different needs can lead to extreme stress — mothers in the sandwich generation, ages 35-54, exhibit the highest levels of stress of any population demographic, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey.1
Meanwhile, with children entering college—and often living at home—there’s a whole second family dynamic at work. Whereas in the past, children would leave the proverbial nest and go off on their own, the combination of rising college costs, a global pandemic, and changing social norms have caused an entire generation to increasingly stay home, relying on their parents to help them through schooling for extra years. In fact, Pew Research shows over 50% of young adults live with their parents—the first time this has happened since the great Depression.2
The Financial Effect of Caring for Others
Most adults report they feel it’s their responsibility to take care of their parents as they get older, with over 1 in 4 already doing so. With the cost of round-the-clock care around $300 per day, thee financial burden of caring for a parent can be great. Some people even find their working hours impacted, which can result in lost wages or health coverage. When people are making those kinds of sacrifices, the financial burden becomes more clear.
Meanwhile, the cost of food, medicines, and even water and electricity all rise with more people in the home. More college students are staying home with their parents to keep costs down, which is pushing the burden of caretaking back onto the Sandwich Generation. And with personal computers, higher internet demands, and more expensive technology all around, the cost of college for parents helping out is rising.
Taking Care of Yourself First
If you’re already taking care of a child and a parent, it may seem like there is no time to take care of yourself. But if you aren’t checking in with your own mental (and financial) health, then you can’t take care of others.
There are some steps you can take to keep yourself sharp, and we go into depth at the links below:
Taking care of two generations of people can feel like a lot. And it wears on your mental stability just as much as your financial stability. But when you determine to put yourself first, and stay healthy while reviewing your finances, you can tackle any challenge.
In fact, Bankers Life helped Sandwich Generations navigate this exact challenge for years. You can schedule an appointment with an agent who will help you figure out the first step to finding some independence (even if just financially). Plus, they’ll stick with you through all the steps after that.
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