The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.
According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million.
Elder care authority Carol Abaya categorized the different scenarios involved in being a part of the sandwich generation.
- Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
- Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
- Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.
Merriam-Webster officially added the term to its dictionary in July 2006.
The term “sandwich generation” was coined by Dorothy A Miller in 1981. She was originally referring to younger women in their thirties and forties who were taking care of their children, but also having to meet the needs of their parents, employers, friends and so on. Now that people are living longer and children are growing up and needing continued care, the “sandwiching” is felt by both men and women who are in their fifties. The demographic could continue to change, but the idea remains the same.
Due to the poor economy, research shows that modern American society has had substantial increase of young post-college kids who return home to live with their parents or continue living with their parents throughout college. In a study done by the PEW Research Center in 2012, published in an article called “The Boomerang Generation,” about 29% of young adults ranging from the ages of 25-34 live with their parents. It is also becoming more acceptable; therefore people who are in this situation are generally satisfied with their situation, which is likely to make it more common and less temporary. This is caused by the poor state of America’s economy. Now the parents of these young adults are being held responsible to care for their children longer than they expected, as well as now also being expected to assume the role of caretaker for their elderly parents. These sandwiched people become responsible for helping their loved ones with daily functioning, medical services and supervision, giving medications, and aiding in financial, legal, and emotional difficulties of their loved ones as well as themselves.