The Challenges of the Sandwich Generation

Being a part of the “Sandwich Generation” can be extremely challenging. These are family members who are “sandwiched” between their elderly parents and their young adult children. Typically, it accounts for people in their 40s or 50s. A recent 2021 survey reported most are in their 40s, at the heart of Generation X. An additional study found that the average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman.

In recent years, the traditional “Sandwich Generation” has expanded the “menu.” Now, there’s the “Club Sandwich Generation” which are older adults in their 50s and 60s who are wedged between their older parents, their adult children who are in their 30s and 40s and then their grandchildren. There’s also the “Open Faced Sandwich Generation” which is anyone who is non-professionally involved in elderly care, which is estimated to be 25% of us at some point in life.

All three of these terms encompass hard challenges. Statistics show that the financial burdens that come along with being a part of these generations are rising. A 2022 study of yearly, monthly, daily, and hourly caregiving costs provided average expenses per state and type of care. Depending on the need, from in-home care to community and assisted living to nursing home residences, the numbers were steep—some exceeding six figures annually. Even before formal care options, these overwhelmed caregivers are spending an average of $10,000+ per year providing for both their children and parents. Even with many Generation X being employed, they’ve taken a reduction in savings and some have increased their debt. 55% of Gen Xers can count on retiring with enough money, a significantly lower percentage versus their younger, more universally recognized rival, the Millennials, at 67%.

43% of Gen Xers say they need to catch up on their savings, while 49% are worried about running out of money once retired. It’s not all that revelatory when the average child costs $230,000 to raise, and an aging parent isn’t cheap either, coming in at $140,000. However, it’s worrisome, and not very unbiased, with Millennials being granted more time to prepare and save.

Money isn’t everything, but it does disproportionately affect lower income workers. Those with a yearly income of $30,000 or less additionally spend more time caregiving than earners making $75,000 or more per year.

Besides the financial issues, the stress of being a part of the Sandwich Generation can lead to burnout, depression, isolation and guilt. Those who are a part of the Sandwich Generation might struggle with balancing other relationships, their families, their job and time for themselves. In fact, those caring for both parents and children get 21 less minutes of sleep per day, plus spend 14 extra minutes engaged in running errands and doing chores around the home.

Disabled caregivers also spend 17 more minutes a day providing assistance to loved ones than those without a disability.

Moreover, if the multigenerational caregiver is a mom, she’ll spend 45 more minutes a day than Dad, helping her parent or child. Women are also more likely to experience higher stress levels.

An October 2020 survey found that 74% of women in opposite-sex relationships reported doing more household management of childcare schedules and events than their partners. Conversely, dads felt the responsibilities were equally split among each parent.

With rising medical bills, elder care services, tuition, and household expenses for everyone involved, it’s emotionally and mentally taxing, causing chronic anxiety. Carving out time for self-care and wellness activities is essential to maintain such a rigorous schedule, yet many deprive themselves of caring for their own health.

Those experiencing this kind of psychological and physical strain can prioritize their own wellbeing with asking for help from others, setting boundaries, and scheduling time to pause, even if it’s just twenty minutes. About six-in-ten adults in the Sandwich Generation live near extended family, allowing for potential opportunity to share the burden with other relatives in their circle.

Compassion fatigue is real, and can affect highly empathetic people even more. Finding balance through nutrition, exercise, time off, counseling, and simply doing hobbies we love are just as important as caring for others. Rested, fulfilled individuals can better care for those they love.

The survey also found that among all adults with at least one parent age 65 or older, 30% say their parent or parents need assistance handling their affairs or care for themselves. This can be a huge task when also caring for children. By 2030, the U.S. will reach an unprecedented population demographic, with the older generation surpassing the number of children for the first time ever.

As time passes, new generations are becoming a part of the Sandwich Generation. According to a more recent survey, the Sandwich Generation has become younger, more female and more diverse, in recent years. Forty percent of Millennials were more likely to be caring for an aging parent during Covid-19 than before the pandemic, compared to 34% of Gen Xers and 13% of Baby Boomers. Still, most in the Sandwich Generation are Generation X, a much smaller group than Boomers and Millennials, yet one tasked with a bulk of the responsibility. However, by 2028, Gen Xers are projected to outnumber Boomers—a first for the two generations.

And it’s a longer haul than most might think. Many adult children now choose to continue living with their parents, and in July 2020, that number was the highest since 1940, with 52% of adults living with either one or both parents; a 4% increase since the Great Depression. In this scenario, 88% lived in their parents’ household versus parents opting to stay in their child’s home.

These new generations are facing hard challenges, especially within the last year and a half. But despite the never-ending list of things to do, the 2021 survey surprisingly revealed that many in the Sandwich Generation report being more satisfied than other adults. They ranked aspects like their family life, social life, community life, and personal financial situation on par or greater than those with different life events.

Though, still not an easy gig, those who find themselves in this difficult position can rely on resources that are made available through assisted living centers and other care services.


Avalon Memory Care is dedicated to helping take some of the stress off of your plate. To learn more about Avalon Memory Care or schedule a visit call (972) 713-1383 or (888) 522-1918.



By |2022-07-29T18:03:06-05:00July 29th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments