If you’re not familiar with the term yet, you’d better gear up. It will be in the news all week as it’s reported to be the centerpiece of President Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday.
Simply put, the term refers to anyone who is caring for their elderly parents and their own children at the same time. While some demographers question the validity of the term itself, it is commonly believed that more people are suffering from this familial burden than at any other time in history.
There are plenty of factors that support this belief – elders living longer, couples delaying having children, the erosion of middle-class buying power – but the truth is that so-called “sandwich generations” have been around for virtually all of recorded history.
Three- (or four-) generation households were common just a generation or two ago. Children of those extended families gained valuable knowledge on dealing with elders as they went through the aging process under the same roof.
There is nothing unique about the concept of a sandwich generation, though it may be true that the pressures of modern American life have raised the anxiety level to unprecedented heights. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Dr. Edward T. Creagan of the Mayo Clinic gives some advice on how to deal with the stress of the situation. Read the comments, too, to see how others are coping. If financial matters are causing the stress, consider these tips from Laura Rossman.
Writing prompt for the day: Write about how your ancestors have dealt with the sandwich generation phenomenon.
Flicks photo courtesy of sweetonveg.