Is the sandwich generation moving towards a club sandwich?

The “sandwich generation” is defined as those individuals who are currently raising a family of their own and are undertaking the care of their elderly parents. This role can be demanding and financially overwhelming. The caregivers may be balancing between their children’s evening activities and checking on mom and dad in a home setting or elder care organization.

A more recent term is the “club sandwich” generation. These are families who consist of parents taking care of their elderly parents. They also have adult children living in the home who may have children of their own. This is a complex living arrangement which leads to more emotional and financial burden.

There are multiple burdens which may result from these two scenarios. Caregivers may feel overwhelmed by the amount of time spent caring for others. There is often little time to care for yourself when you are spending so much time taking care of others. This leads to burnout. Feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness may surface. A good solution may be to find a support group in your area. Talk about things others who are in the same situation might be going through.

Financial burdens from care giving are very taxing when trying to run a household and then add on caring for others. There may be medical needs, medication management, finding help when one has to go to work are all emotional and financial burdens which fall on the primary caregivers. National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP reports in 2017, “An estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months. On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care to their loved one”.

All of these situations may cause struggles with managing work, time with your spouse or one on one time with your children. It may become hard to get to functions like birthday parties or class trips for the kids because you are managing the care of a loved one. Finding solutions any ways keep life somewhat “normal” can be part of the mission of the caregiver. They are also trying to keep everyone happy, healthy and safe. It is important to reach out for help when you need it.

As we see more “club sandwiches” families developing, it becomes apparent that we are so focused on the recipient of care that we forget about the caregiver. National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP notes that “The typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed 69-year-old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women. More than 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them.” It is vital to look at the family as a whole and find solutions to decrease stress.

Care managers can help guide the needs of your loved one and offer ways to reduce stress. It is not easy learning how to navigate the healthcare system. It is best to seek advice from professionals to ensure you are getting the most “bang for your buck” with the benefits you have. Care managers are qualified to help pilot your way through the continuum of care.

For help with care management solutions or support finding a support group: contact Nicole Lipinski at 570-344-6177 ext 1113 or nlipinski@jhep.org