The ‘sandwich generation’ still supports its children while caring for its parents, which is playing a toll on its health
Kentucky Health News
America has Generation X, Generation Z and more, but it also has “the sandwich generation,” adults between 40 and 59 who care for their aging parents and help support their own children. Most family caregiving falls to this generation, and most of the caregivers are women.
Historically, when people reached this age group, they became empty nesters. But the Pew Research Center
of parents in their 40s are caring for seniors while also financially supporting their adult children,” says a study report
from the Seniorly Resource Center
“The sandwich generation is bound by a unique set of social and demographic forces that include a record number of aging seniors and financial challenges that have stunted the economic stability of their adult children,” the report says. “As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions linked to old age continue to rise, and the financial stability of young adults remains stunted, America’s ‘sandwich generation’ is seeing substantial declines in their own physical, mental, and financial health.”
In Kentucky, 45.8% of caregivers have two chronic health conditions, 15.5% are mentally distressed, Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase 14.7% by 2025 and 3% of homes are multigenerational, according to a news release about the study.
In a report titled “Valuing the Invaluable: 2023 Update,” the American Association of Retired Persons found
that there are 610,000 caregivers in Kentucky who provide 570 million care hours, at an estimated economic value of $8.6 million.
The Alzheimer’s Association says
in Kentucky, 75,000 people 65 and older are living with the disease and 157,000 family caregivers bear the burden of caring for them, while providing 302 million hours of unpaid care.
The report offers tips to prevent caregiver burnout, such as creating a financial strategy, prioritizing self-care, delegating tasks, utilizing available resources, staying organized and communicating openly with family about challenges.
The release added three suggestions:
Respite care provides short-term stays for seniors to give primary caretakers a break. It is also a great way to try out senior living and some organizations provide respite grants to help offset the cost.
Assistive technology: Caregivers should use new technology. Grandpad is a user-friendly tablet with 24-hour live support; Lively is a waterproof watch that replaces emergency pendants like Life Alert; and caregiving apps such as Medisafe are designed to keep track of tasks.
Ask for help and be specific: Most people want to help their friends and family but don’t know how. If you are overwhelmed, it is critical to ask for help. Determine what needs to be done and assign people specific tasks.
The report also offered information on some support groups, including:
- National Alliance for Caregiving: The NAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting caregivers. You can visit their website at www.caregiving.org.
- Caregiver Action Network: CAN is an organization that provides education, support, and resources for family caregivers. They offer a helpline, support groups, and an online community. You can contact them at 1-855-227-3640 or visit www.caregiveraction.org.
- Eldercare Locator: This is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. They can help connect you with local resources and support services for caregivers. You can contact them at 1-800-677-1116 or visit their website at www.eldercare.acl.gov.
Using data from the Alzheimer’s Association and federal agencies, Seniorly did state-by-state estimates of likelihood of increasing caregiver burnout. Kentucky was at about the national average.