Generation X and Millennials are at a busy time of life; from getting established in their careers to hitting their stride mid-life and supporting their growing families. Amid all this, the children of the Baby Boomer generation are also dealing with a massive undertaking: caring for their aging parents. With the rise in healthcare costs and inflation throughout the economy, it’s becoming more expensive to have children, let alone adding the financial burden of caring for one’s own parents. But this phenomenon is not new, as the term “sandwiched” (between the care of their children and their parents) existed as far back as 1981, says the Huffington Post. Whatever their moniker, it’s clear that young and middle aged Americans are facing serious financial burdens and lifestyle consequences of this sandwiching.
Not just Gen Xers
Many argue that millennials are too young to worry about caring for aging parents, but this isn’t always the case. Ariel Brandt Lautman was 35 when she became the primary person responsible for planning the care of her mother, Janet Brandt, after her she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. Lautman’s story was covered by Susan B. Garland of the New York Times, who acknowledged in the piece that “one-fourth of the 40 million caregivers in the United States are millennials, ranging from their early 20s to late 30s, according to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute.”
No matter their age, caregivers today are dealing with added stress and mounting burdens of juggling immediate family obligations with that of their aging parents—along with a career, not to mention any personal interests or pursuits. It’s not as if children-of-boomer caregivers can choose just one obligation or the other, as many of them already have their own families when the need to care for their own parents arises.
Sandwiched between children and parents
Caregiving is its own gig, as Carol Bradley Bursack notes in her article with AgingCare: “Caregiving is a job. When you have more than one generation to care for, it’s like working overtime or taking on a second job.” It’s not just taking on a second job if you’re already a full-time mom who works full-time. Think about it: life is busy enough, but many are being forced to make time to care for their parents when other options aren’t readily affordable.
A Pew Study released in 2013 revealed that caregivers aren’t just struggling like Lautman did with young children and an aging parent. Many middle-aged caregivers or those in the “sandwich generation” are actually caring for aging parents while also supporting adult children simultaneously. Study authors note, “While the share of middle-aged adults living in the so-called sandwich generation has increased only marginally in recent years, the financial burdens associated with caring for multiple generations of family members are mounting. The increased pressure is coming primarily from grown children rather than aging parents.” It’s much harder to get a job than it was fifty or even twenty years ago, and with student debt weighing heavily on young people, it’s no surprise that many are relying on their parents to pick up the financial slack. Many of those helpful parents are also responsible for supporting their own aging parents.
Sharing the burden of caregiving
It’s obvious that caregiving is no small task and requires the often untimely demands from close family members. Not every person in need has a family network or support system to ask for help, but certain resources are available from AARP and other various organizations. If you are looking for help sharing the burden of caregiving or perhaps finding affordable care for yourself, Live Care offers a solution. Fill out our contact form to start your application for aid today.
Ms. Harris is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys reading, triathlons, and baking.