November 21, 2012
The Sandwich Generation
The sandwich generations is a term describing a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. Merriam-Webster officially added the term to its dictionary in July 2006. In an individual perspective, “the term describes people who are squeezed between the simultaneous demands of caring for their parents and supporting their dependent children” (The 'Sandwich Generation': Women taking care of parents and children, 2006). Men are more likely than women to support aging family members financially, and women are more likely to support their parents emotionally and in daily tasks such as household chores, shopping, and basic hygiene. Nearly 30 years ago, Elaine Brody reported that “having a dependent elderly parent was becoming a normative experience for many individuals and families and exceeding the capacities of some of them” ("The Sandwich Generation": Challenges of Caring for Parents, Children, and Yourself, 2012), in her community study of caregivers, she found that women in their middle years were providing more support to their elderly parents, their own children and had worked more than had their elderly parents when they were in midlife. Demographics show that the sandwich generation is indeed growing. People are living longer, so more midlife adults have surviving parents, although often with serious impairments. Marriage is delayed, as is having children, such that middle-aged adults are more likely to still have children in the home as parents require care. Declines in fertility, such that there are fewer caregivers available (i.e., fewer siblings) and more adult children are choosing to live at home during college years. Finally, the proportion of midlife women in the workforce has increased dramatically over the past 30 years and middle-aged adults in general are typically at the peak of their careers and face extensive demands in the workplace, so this can also add to feelings of being ‘sandwiched’ for this generation. “A New York Times article from 2008 reported that there are 20 million Americans (mostly women) who are juggling responsibilities for their own children and their aging parents at the same time” ("The Sandwich Generation": Challenges of Caring for Parents, Children, and Yourself, 2012). Being that I am in a sandwich generation household, I believe the definition is right on point. Although the definition is right on point everyone’s situation is going to differ. Statistics points out that “44% of married individuals aged 35 to 44 both live with children and have at least one parent in fair to poor health” ("The Sandwich Generation": Challenges of Caring for Parents, Children, and Yourself, 2012). My parents welcome my brothers and me to live with them as well as my grandmother, the mother of my mom. My grandmother is not in poor health but was taken in because my grandfather passing away leaving my grandma alone. My parents felt it necessary to take in my grandmother but she too does contribute to the household chores and groceries. Researching about the sandwich generation brings upon many challenges which I happen to disagree with. There are plenty of benefits from being in a sandwiched household. Research indicates that the sandwich household brings upon stressors, financial troubles, and inconveniences that would not come about if not being in a sandwich household. The sandwich household brings mutual benefits to all members of the family household. Some good benefits of being in the sandwich include honor, respect, pride/joy, and love. Family members also have a strong sense of support and care, the use of acceptance strategies and a focus on positive outcomes. The not-so-good feelings of being in the sandwich are “guilt, resentment, fear, and anxiety, anger, and frustration, confusions, depression and sadness. Parents...