The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Adults feeling generation squeeze-Sandwich Generation taking responsibility for parents

Part of the Sandwich Generation, Sherilea Baldwin, right, assists her mother, Sondra Kincaid, during a recent trip to the grocery store.  Photo by Keisha McDuffie/The Collegian
Part of the Sandwich Generation, Sherilea Baldwin, right, assists her mother, Sondra Kincaid, during a recent trip to the grocery store. Photo by Keisha McDuffie/The Collegian

By Cindy Reed/reporter

(Part one in a three-part series on the Sandwich Generation—when the role of a family member changes to accommodate children and elderly parents.)

Part of the Sandwich Generation, Sherilea Baldwin, right, assists her mother, Sondra Kincaid, during a recent trip to the grocery store.  Photo by Keisha McDuffie/The Collegian
Part of the Sandwich Generation, Sherilea Baldwin, right, assists her mother, Sondra Kincaid, during a recent trip to the grocery store. Photo by Keisha McDuffie/The Collegian

Sandwich Generation has nothing to do with whole wheat or mayo, though it may well say something about everyday, frequently unsung heroes.

As people live longer and the population of senior citizens swells as never before, so grow the ranks of the Sandwich Generation.

Strictly defined, the Sandwich Generation includes people 45 to 55 who are likely to have both living parents and children of their own under 21.

The Monthly Labor Review, citing statistics gathered from the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women, revealed more than 1 percent of women 45 to 56 have both parents and children living with
them or children they are supporting in college.

When casually defined as women who gave at least $200 or at least 100 hours to both their parents and children during the year, the numbers exploded to fully 20 percent.

Combining those numbers to include women whose parents live with them or live in a nursing facility and those whose children live with them or who are being supported while at college raises the percentage.

Fully 33 percent of women in this age group could be classified as being in the Sandwich Generation.
Carol Abaya, nationally syndicated columnist, expands the definition to include anyone sandwiched between generations older and younger than they.

On her Web site, thesandwichgeneration.com, Abaya calls the 45- to 56-year-old group described in the Monthly Labor Review as the Traditional Sandwich.

Abaya goes further and expands her definition to include the Club Sandwich as “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.”

Abaya further includes anyone else involved in elder care and refers to them as an Open-faced Sandwich.
In short, anyone in a multi-generational family can find herself joining the ranks of the Sandwich Generation.

More than 25 percent of American families are involved in some way with elder/parent care. The challenges of this new responsibility cannot be simply identified nor are they easy to fulfill.

In the Middle: A Report on Multicultural Boomers Coping With Family and Aging Issues by Belden Russonello & Stewart and Research/Strategy/Management was published on The Daily at www.statcan.ca and republished by the American Association of Retired People. The study points toward the similarities rather than differences of culture in managing this life stage issue.

“ In a nation as diverse as the United States, there are inevitably differences in how well they are coping and the types of care they give, but majorities in every racial and ethnic group believe that they are coping well and use similar coping mechanisms to address the needs of three generations,” the BRS report said.

Regardless of differences in ethnic or racial background, Americans are more alike than not when it comes to family life.

“ Most view their children as their closest family members, and many rely on faith and prayer most frequently to help them care for their elders,” the report said.

NE Campus student Shana Guzman learned some of what it means to be part of a Club Sandwich.
Guzman’s mother was only 52 when she suffered a stroke. Guzman was in her early 30s and a mother of a young daughter.

Guzman described feelings of anger and guilt as the roles of parent and child between her and her mother reversed, compelling her to seek help and resources within her family and community.

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