The Sandwich Generation 

Being “sandwiched” is being situated between two things, often without any agency in the matter. The Pew Research Center reports that almost half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have at least one parent aged 65 or older and are simultaneously raising a child under 18 or are financially supporting one over 18. Such folks are colloquially termed the “sandwich generation,” as they are effectively stuck in the middle of obligatory care–often of the financial variety–for both their aging parents and their own offspring. 

This situation is not improving in the foreseeable future. In 2020, the US Census Bureau estimated the number of Americans aged 65 and older is going to increase by 92% (~46 million people), indicating that those aging into the sandwich generation will continue to face ongoing challenges. 

Americans lose roughly $28.9 billion in wages every year to care for family members. The sandwich generation faces particular financial difficulties that others do not; many of this specific demographic estimate losing more than $10,000 in missing work or delaying promotions in order to take care of others. Some members of the generation find themselves postponing their own retirement to ensure their parents and children are healthy, safe, and provided for. 

The onus of caregiving can place excessive burden on you, resulting in neglect of your own needs. As a member of this generation, how should you consider your personal finances? Careful financial planning and honest conversations can help mitigate some of the stress involved with dual caregiving. 

If you’re a sandwich generation member, you can benefit from a solid relationship with a trustworthy financial advisor. Financial advisors have the advantage of assessing your position from an outside perspective and can offer the best advice on how to handle tough financial situations with all of the people for whom you care. 

Candid communication is crucial to ensure everyone understands the situation and is aware of your limitations. Talk to your parents about their finances. They may have their own retirement funds or pension plans to help alleviate some of their financial burden. Talk to your children about the family’s financial situation, as well. Older children can contribute to the family income, which may also help to guide them toward their own independence. 

Take care of yourself. Being sandwiched is a tough place to be, and self care is super important for members of this generation. This doesn’t mean that eating an extra dessert or taking a bubble bath will entirely assuage the challenges that come with being a dual caregiver. But if you neglect your own mental health and wellbeing, you will not be able to help your family, either. 

Members of the sandwich generation with caregiving responsibilities on both ends of the age spectrum have distinctive needs when it comes to financial planning. That’s why we at WR Wealth Planners emphasize and pay special attention to those who fall into this category, so you don’t always feel like you’re slipping through the cracks. Invest in a trustworthy financial advisor who can help you navigate your situation. You’ll find it’s ultimately an investment in yourself. 

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The Sandwich Generation 

The Pew Research Center reports that almost half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have at least one parent aged 65 or older and are simultaneously raising a child under 18 or are financially supporting one over 18.

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Tom Markowitz, PhD

Dental specialist