Welcome to the Sandwich Generation
First we couldn\’t have any.
Then we could have it all.
Then we realized we didn\’t want it all.
So how come we\’re still doing it all – and feeling guilty about it to boot!?
Welcome to the “Sandwich Generation”!
So much has been written lately about the “Sandwich Generation” – those
caring for both their children and their aging parents. It\’s an
important subject, especially because, while Baby Boomer men are also
members of the sandwich generation, the overwhelming impact is on Baby
Why are women bearing the brunt of eldercare? Because we\’re a product
of our parent\’s generational expectations and they expect us – their
daughters (and daughters-in-law) – to be their caregivers. For them,
it\’s our job . . . it\’s simply “what is”.
Why do we feel guilty? Because while most people think of Baby Boomers
in terms of the independence and equality of the ‘60\’s, our parent\’s
generational expectations were instilled in us during our formative
years, long before the advent of the Women\’s Movement – expectations
which continue to be reinforced at every turn with pictures and
articles about a women\’s role and responsibility as the caregiver.
What can we do? For one thing, we can begin by educating. Educating
your employers and co-workers (men as well as women) on the financial
impact to business. For example, that according to a 1999 national
• U.S. businesses lose $11.4 to
$29 billion per year due to caregiving and recent estimates are that
69% to 83% of family or informal caregivers are women.
• The cost to businesses to
replace women caregivers who quit their jobs because of their
caregiving responsibilities has been estimated at $3.3 billion.
• Absenteeism among women
caregivers due to caregiving responsibilities costs businesses almost
• 82% of working caregivers came
into work late or left early as a result of their caregiving
• The cost to businesses because
of partial absenteeism (e. g., extended lunch breaks, leaving work
early or arriving late) due to women\’s caregiving has been estimated at
$327 million. Caregiving-related workday interruptions add another $3.8
Educating your husbands, brothers, and male friends on the financial
and quality-of-life impact eldercare has on the family. For example,
• According to results from a
1994–1995 study, the odds of women spousal caregivers retiring are more
than five times that of non-caregivers (and women who provide
assistance to multiple family members or friends have 50% higher odds
of retiring than non-caregiving women), thus reducing the current and
future income and benefits upon which the family depends.
• Women who can\’t retire are
left to cope to the best of their financial and emotional abilities –
often at a substantial cost to both the caregiver and the family\’s
long-term mental, physical, and emotional health.
• Eldercare is expensive, not
only in terms of income but also expenses for such things as
prescription medications, safety equipment (such as installing safety
bars or a wheelchair ramp), or purchasing consumable supplies (such as
disposable undergarments) – further impacting the family budget and
stressing the relationship.
And educating your parents. Help them understand that, although you want to do what you can,
• The reality of your life is
different from their generational expectations – that you also have the
day-to-day responsibility of family and jobs
• And that their sons should be allowed to help with the caregiving, too.