The increase in average life expectancy has brought about a recent phenomenon (and major dilemmas) for the modern American family over the last two decades. The so-called "sandwich generation” is a category of individuals charged with the task of caring for elderly parents while also rearing and maintaining financial responsibility over their children.
The term was officially coined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary in 2006, July is annually recognized as Sandwich Generation Month.
Millions of people are finding themselves "sandwiched” in coping with new and unexpected responsibilities. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately one in eight Americans between the ages of 40 to 60 is currently raising at least one child and offering assistance to at least one parent. Meanwhile, 7 to 10 million adults are offering long distance aid to parents.
Data from the National Longitudinal Survey in 2006 concluded that the majority of the sandwich generation is women between the ages of 45 and 56 who divide their resources by offering financial assistance to their children and time to their parents. The survey claims that these women are generally married, wealthier, no longer active in the labor force and annually spend $10,000 and 1,350 hours helping their children and parents.
Considering the rate of inflation, this amount reaches more than $11,000 in 2011. (With the sputtering economy, this number rises only further.)
In today’s tough financial time, the sandwich generation is being forced to make difficult decisions between saving for their kids’ college tuitions, their own nest egg and their parents’ retirement. The stress of the responsibility of your situation as a "sandwiched” person will wear on you over time, so be sure to organize your assets, start saving early, be mindful of budgetary considerations and make sure to take time for yourself.
Resources to Unburden the Sandwiched
There are resources out there to help. Here’s a list of five available resources.