Shifting Demographics Intensifies Pressures on Family Caregivers - 'Sandwich Generation' Juggles Responsibilities

Multigenerational households are increasing, with middle-aged people facing the responsibility of supporting their older parents and their children, financially, physically, and emotionally. Lack of planning creates a family crisis.

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Shifting Demographics Intensifies Pressures on Family Caregivers - 'Sandwich Generation' Juggles Responsibilities
7 Min Read May 6th, 2022 Updated:July 26th, 2023

Imagine juggling the responsibilities of caring for your parents, raising your children, and maintaining your career simultaneously. Many individuals unexpectedly find themselves as caregivers, struggling to balance financial and health challenges alongside these duties.


The media often focuses on generational demographics like baby boomers and millennials. Yet, another generation is increasingly under the spotlight due to the stress they face around the clock.


According to an October 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. adults now form what's referred to as the "Sandwich Generation." These individuals have at least one parent aged 65 or older while also raising a child under 18 or financially supporting an adult child.


The Challenges of the Sandwich Generation Grow The complex task of simultaneously providing care for a parent, supporting children, and managing other familial responsibilities is becoming an increasingly common challenge for many Americans. 


More People Find Themselves ‘Sandwiched’

The 40s demographic is most likely to find themselves in this sandwiched situation, with 54% having a living parent aged 65 or older and raising a minor or providing financial aid to an adult child within the past year.


Dr. Amy D'Aprix, a life transition expert and gerontologist, quoted in an article on, said that sandwich-generation caregivers are often so focused on the needs of their loved ones that they neglect their own health and well-being.


They may experience chronic stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, and increased risk of chronic diseases. It is vital for them to practice self-care, seek support, and explore available resources to cope with the challenges of caregiving.

Adults in their 40s are the most likely to be in the 'sandwich generation'

This group of people is actually caught in the middle, trying to help both older parents and children. Many in this generation have careers at the same time. The stress is hard to imagine unless you have been in their shoes yourself.

Worldwide Aging Creating a Crisis for Families

With a booming population of over 54 million adults aged 65 and older, the U.S. is witnessing a significant shift towards later parenthood. The average age for first-time mothers in the United States has risen to 26, which aligns with patterns in other developed nations, where the average age for women becoming mothers for the first time has reached 31.

The term "Sandwich Generation" was first introduced in 1981 by social worker Dorothy A. Miller. She employed this phrase to define adults simultaneously tasked with caring for their aging parents and their own children.

Tami Anastasia is an author and Alzheimer's and dementia counselor. Speaking in a webinar hosted by Belmont Village Senior Living explained that the emotional and physical struggles associated with prioritizing care should not be overlooked. 

Resentment doesn't occur right at the beginning of the caregiving journey but is rather built up over time. This provides a significant dilemma among the 'Sandwich Generation' as they often feel they must handle care on their own without professional help or help from friends and family. A common example is the tendency of family members to resent other family members who receive overt praise for doing what they perceive in their eyes as the bare minimum. 

Tami Anastasia

Caregivers Have Multiple Responsibilities

Assuming the role of a caregiver for an older parent is an arduous task. However, it's rarely the caregiver's sole responsibility. The added pressures can take a toll on both the caregiver and the care recipient, who often grapples with the guilt of imposing such burdens on their family, thus exacerbating feelings of depression stemming from their increased dependence.


While no one relishes the thought of becoming a burden, many families find themselves unprepared for an inevitability that life brings - aging. Assistance with daily activities may become necessary for various reasons, ranging from illness and accidents to the natural frailties of aging. In the absence of prior planning, this need can precipitate a family crisis, with adult children left to balance the demands of caregiving with their parental responsibilities.


Even with financial resources to hire professional care, someone must oversee these caregivers and bridge any gaps in care. As professional care costs continue to rise across the country, personal finances may be stretched thin, often culminating in family members stepping into caregiver roles despite initial plans.


In this complex ballet of care, roles blur, and boundaries shift, painting a compelling portrait of the multifaceted, emotionally charged world of caregiving. The Sandwich Generation, balancing caregiving and parenting, embodies resilience and selfless love while underscoring the pressing need for more comprehensive, accessible, and affordable long-term care solutions.

Coping is Vital When Being a Caregiver

Being able to cope with the stress and physical demands of being a caregiver and a member of the 'Sandwich Generation' will make the journey easier.

Anastasia talks about a powerful set of "S.A.C.R.E.D.©" coping tools – a memorable acronym and self-care guide for "Sandwich Generation" families comprised of the following tenets:

  • Stop "should-ing" yourself. Don't give in to self-defeating thoughts about what you "should" do. Instead, replace "should" with what you can, will, and want to do as a caregiver.

  • Acknowledge your own feelings and emotions and the ones of those around you to gauge how you're doing emotionally and recognize ways to be proactive.

  • Comfort and compassion are critical. You're more likely to feel caring and compassionate for others when you afford yourself the same. Find ways to incorporate comfort and compassion in your own self-talk.

Ways to Make it Easier

Anastasia offers advice for those caring for their aging parents. These suggestions were developed over many years of counseling the elderly, helping those who need long-term health care and suffer from dementia.

  • Resources are required. Ensure resources are readily available for aging parents and children and reach out to close friends, family, and professionals when you feel overwhelmed.

  • Establish an emergency plan. Have medical, prescription, legal (including will and trust), POLST, or DNR/AND (do not resuscitate/allow natural death) related matters in place and ready for immediate access. Coach family members on what to expect in an emergency and keep them informed and prepared.

  • Delegate tasks and ask for help because one person can't possibly do everything on their own. This is a special time when stress can peak.

Handle Stress Before Stress Handles You

Caregivers must manage multiple responsibilities. Being a family caregiver leads to many issues, including a weakened immune system, stress from job loss, marital instability, various home-life struggles, coping with family concerns, and more. 

The stress and anxiety that results from being a caregiver are not good for your physical or emotional health and well-being. The constant state of heightened alert that these caregivers experience can often lead to depression, illness, burnout, and unexpected emotions like resentment. 

The emotional and physical struggles associated with prioritizing care for the older adult and the rest of your family should not be overlooked.  

"Resentment doesn't occur right at the beginning of the caregiving journey but is rather built up over time. This provides a significant dilemma among the 'Sandwich Generation' as they often feel they must handle care on their own without professional help or help from friends and family. A common example is the tendency of family members to resent other family members who receive overt praise for doing what they perceive in their eyes as the bare minimum," Anastasia explained.

Proper coping mechanisms can be lifesaving.

Self-care, even just 10 minutes a day, is the single most important thing you can do. The better you take care of yourself, the better you will survive this journey.

Planning Helps Avoid the Crisis

While these recommendations are invaluable in a crisis, the question arises: can we preemptively avert such situations? Experts consistently endorse the necessity of a long-term care plan to tackle the financial and logistical challenges of aging and declining health.

Yet, candid conversations about aging often remain elusive or get reduced to humor. It's not uncommon for parents to jest about not wanting to end up in a nursing home while their children counter with lighthearted remarks about being the ones to choose the nursing home when the time comes.

However, a serious discourse seldom takes place. The reality is that most long-term care today is not nursing home-based but is provided at home (or a child's home), assisted living facilities, or memory care centers.

Families often realize too late that health insurance and Medicare cover a minimal portion of these long-term health care services. While Medicaid can finance long-term health care for those with limited income and assets, this is not a viable option for everyone.

Regrettably, many people are either unaware of Long-Term Care Insurance or postpone its purchase, assuming they can do so in their later years. They are often caught off guard when they discover their health conditions make them ineligible. Since Long-Term Care Insurance involves medical underwriting, it's typically acquired when individuals are in their 50s and comparatively healthier.

A family discussion about future long-term care planning should ideally occur when one is younger and in good health, before a crisis emerges. This proactive approach benefits all family members and can potentially alleviate the stress and emotional burden associated with caregiving in the future.

Seek Help

If you are already a caregiver, find the appropriate help either from other family members or from professionals. Professional caregivers can either provide respite care or provide half-time or even full-time care if the resources are available. 

Professional caregivers can either come into your home, or you can use adult day care centers as a way to provide the family caregiver with relief. 

These guides from LTC NEWS can be helpful -

If your parent has a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, use the benefits. Sometimes families think it is better to hold off activating the policy. That usually is not a good strategy and just adds to the stress. Accessing quality care will benefit your older parent if they get it right away.

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. 

Even if they do not have an LTC Insurance policy, this service will help you design an appropriate care plan as you access quality care options. 

Aging is a reality, and we will face declining health, mobility problems, and even dementia as we get older. Thinking about these problems before they become problems will keep you in control and reduce the pressures otherwise placed on those you love.

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About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell

Linda Maxwell

Contributor since December 11th, 2017

Editor's Note

Longevity has consequences. Long-Term Care Insurance is a valuable tool to help you address the costs and burdens of aging. Being prepared keeps you in control, protects assets, gives you access to your choice of quality care, and gives loved one’s time to be family instead of caregivers.

You might think you have plenty of time to think about these issues. You don't plan for retirement after you retire - you don't plan for long-term health care as you need it.

You probably love your family and don't want to place this responsibility on them. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance in your 40s or 50s when you have the most affordable options.

Seek Professional Planning Help

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS

Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.

One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.

LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

Be A Guest Contributor for LTC NEWS - Share Your Knowledge 

LTC NEWS is open to contributors to share their stories with the world. 

You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.

Be sure to write for our core target audience of adults aged 40 and older. Our audience is worldwide; however, our primary target is the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other English-speaking nations. 

Improve your website or blog's SEO and gain exposure and traffic at the same time by being a contributor to LTC NEWS. 

You can even promote yourself, your business, and your website or blog. However, it must have editorial content exclusive to LTC NEWS and not just an advertisement. It can include links to other sites, and you can share the article link once published on your website or social media.

Email your story idea or article: - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

LTC NEWS - Your Marketing and Advertising Partner 

Use LTC NEWS to drive traffic to your website and help you attract people interested in your products and services. Plus, you can improve your website's SEO so more consumers can find you when they search for your products and services.

There are various marketing options available with LTC NEWS. Traditional advertising, sponsored content articles, strategic alliances, and more are available. 

Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help you market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.

Shared Links

LTC NEWS offers a 'helpful links' page so readers looking for additional information can find them easily. You can get a dofollow link to your website on LTC NEWS in exchange for a dofollow link on your site.

Let's work together and help consumers who search for us on the web - Site Request | LTC News.

You can also affordably purchase a dofollow link to your website or blog on LTC NEWS. Just contact the advertising department.

Sharing News with LTC NEWS 

Include LTC NEWS in your press release distribution. If your group, organization, business, political committee, etc., have news to share, send it to LTC NEWS. Email - 

Get Help in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation. 

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

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