Get to Know the "Sandwich Generation"

Megan Ray  |  July 17, 2011

July was officially designated Sandwich Generation month to better highlight the issues that millions of Americans face every day as they try to take care of an elderly parent, often while still balancing a career and other familial obligations. It's important to become acquainted with these  very real issues that so many Americans have to tackle.

First of all, there are 78 million baby boomers in the country and many are facing a number of unforeseen obstacles. As they try to get ready for their own retirement, many are not only financially supporting adult children, but also looking after Mom and Dad. A recent TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation survey found that 54 percent of baby boomer respondents currently had a child under the age of 25 living at home.

Pew research reveals that 1 out of every 8 Americans, ages 40 to 60, is burning the caring candle at both ends as they support elderly parents and children. Around 10 million of these caregivers are trying to help a parent who's far away, too, which is responsible for added expenses in gas and plane tickets, and can also be a detriment to personal health.

If a parent really does require too much assistance to continue living alone, experts suggest that it may be time to consider talking about the transition to an assisted living community, where a loved one's needs can be met by experienced and dedicated staff.

Americans who are taking care of an elderly adult with a neurological disorder may be most in need of professional care assistance. Alzheimer's care can require 100 percent of a caregiver's attention. In fact, the Alzheimer's Association estimates that 80 percent of care is done at home - a task that can quickly become overwhelming for Americans who are part of the sandwich generation. Overall, the organization states that almost 15 million people are tending to the needs of a patient with Alzheimer's disease.

So, with this knowledge in hand, try to get acquainted with the problems of this special group of Americans and offer help however you can. Whether you're a member of the sandwich generation yourself or know someone who's a part of it, support and understanding is crucial to help caregivers avoid health problems related to their responsibilities.