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What is the Sandwich Generation & How it Started?

We’ve all heard the term Sandwich Generation. But how did this term come to be? The Sandwich Generation, or those who provide care for both children and their aging parents at the same time, is not just a modern phenomenon. The sandwich generation has been around since the Industrial Revolution when people started living past 65 years old and the average life expectancy was just 35 years old. This means that many adults now find themselves responsible for both their parents and their children.


In the United States, it has become more common that people find themselves caring for their young children, their aging parents and even their aging grandparents. The layers of generations in the family dynamic mirror layers of sandwiches. The expression was first recorded in 1974 by social worker Robert N. Taylor, of Cleveland, Ohio. It is not clear how many people are in this situation, but it has been estimated that about 10 million American adults are caring for both their parents and their children simultaneously. Additionally, there are more than 65 million Americans over 65 years old which means about one-third of the population is part of the sandwich generation.


In 2010, a study by MetLife Foundation found that nearly half of all Americans are part of the sandwich generation. This includes 73% of Americans with children age 18 or younger and 37% with no dependent children at all. So how do we cope with the challenges of caring for our children and parents simultaneously? Here are a few tips that will help you manage.

  1. Take time to recharge - It is essential for the caregiver as well as the entire family to take time for self care. Remember you can't pour from an empty cup.

  2. Share the load with family -Learn to delegate. If your children are over the age of 5, you can allow them to help with household chores or allow others to pick up your kids from school or basketball practice. Tis is important because it gives you time to give your attention to situations that may be more pressing.

  3. Talk to your employer - Having work flexibility is essential to handling your duties as a dual caregiver. Taking advantage of FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) benefits, which provide certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. Your ability to take FMLA will depend on many variables including time on job but is worth discussing it with your HR representative.

  4. Hire Help For Aging Loved Ones - Home care services are not medical services. Home care is more focused on personal care needs and some household needs. Home care workers help with dressing, bathing, meal preparation, companionship, and other daily activities. They also help with some household chores and light housekeeping. Avodah Home Care offers these services and so much more. Contact us today for a free in-home assessment at 803-764-4048. We offer quality care that you can trust.

Remember no one person can do it all. Take time to rejuvenate and don't be afraid to delegate or ask for help. Caring for dual generations can be so rewarding; make beautiful memories with your loved ones.


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