The Sandwich Generation and the State of the Union

U.S. President Obama delivers his first State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington

Comments that have been logged onto our blog clarify that while we, and others, use the term Sandwich Generation, we are not actually referring to a real generation but rather to a stage of life in which any generation is stressed by caring for growing children and aging parents at the same time.

Yet the predicaments of the Sandwich Generation are even more relevant in today’s world. Between 40 and 50 million Americans are now acting as unpaid care-givers to their aging parents, with one-third of them still raising children. And, in the average case, it is a working woman in her late 40’s, stressed by trying to do it all.

Sandwich Generation issues have been exacerbated due to a combination of circumstances: since the last decade or two of the 20th century, couples have been starting their families later in life; adolescence has expanded at least into the twenties, abetted by helicopter parents and with boomerang kids returning home, requiring financial assistance in a bad economy; seniors have been living longer, often with chronic illnesses – and with close to one-half of the workforce being women, we are often pulled and pushed by both ends of our family while having little time, energy and financial resources to care for ourselves while reacting to the needs of our loved ones in this recession.

While the lead-up to the State of the Union address indicated that a key theme would be helping the Sandwich Generation, President Obama made only a modest set of proposals to address these issues for middle-class families: increasing the child-care tax credit and capping student loan repayments.

It is expected that, in the next month, he will advance two additional proposals based on Vice-President Biden’s task force: additional child-care funding for low-income families and increasing funding for programs assisting people caring for aging family members – through respite care, counseling, training and referrals – and for services allowing those elders to remain in their homes longer.

We can only hope that there will be assistance forthcoming to Sandwich Generation members, reducing their stress and anxieties as they care for their families-in-flux. To read about how to ease yourself into the role of care-giver for an aging parent, click on the post title above to take you to our website, and our article, How to Shift from Daddy’s Girl to Dad’s Caregiver.

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