The Sandwich Generation…The New Normal?


Have you heard of the term “The Sandwich Generation?”  Well, if you haven’t up until now, then you’ll probably start to hear it more and more.  Heck, you might even be a member of The Sandwich Generation and you don’t even know it.

It’s a term that I find extremely accurate and descriptive once you understand the context of which it’s used.  So what exactly does it mean?

The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people who care for their agingparents while supporting their own children.

Dorothy A. Miller coined the term “sandwich generation” back in 1981, and Carol Abaya has continued to study and expose what it means to millions of Americans.

Carol Abaya, M.A., is nationally recognized as an expert on the sandwich generation, aging and elder/parent care issues. As a journalist, she has written about aging issues for more than 20 years. Her magazine, The Sandwich Generation®, was the first to talk about the challenges of elder/parent care. (To learn more about Carol and her efforts, visit her website, www.sandwichgeneration.com.)

Carol Abaya categorized the different scenarios involved in being a part of the sandwich generation.

  • Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
  • Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
  • Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.

 Merriam-Webster and Oxford English officially added the term to their dictionaries in 2006, and Carol also coined the words “club sandwich generation” and “open face sandwich generation.”  Some day, they may also find their way into these prestigious dictionaries.

With all of the definitions and persons responsible for coining the terms aside, what does this term mean to you?  If you are a part of The Sandwich GenerationÒ, you know that it means you are playing a huge game of tug-o-war. It’s a tug-o-war between your aging parents and your children for your time, care, love and attention.  And, that doesn’t even go into the stress that comes with caring for your loved ones financially.

The major news networks have even been covering it since the situation it describes has become more and more commonplace. Click on both links below to learn more about The Sandwich Generation and what others in this situation are doing to cope. CNNMoney posted an excellent article on it back in 2007, and CBS did an intriguing news segment on it back in 2009.

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