What Causes Stress For The Sandwich Generation?

The term “Sandwich” generation was coined in 1981 by two social workers, referring to middle-aged individuals who shoulder the responsibility of raising their children and caring for their aging parents simultaneously. Canadians aged 45-64 provide 75% of informal care for older adults, devoting an average of 5-30 hours each week to caregiving tasks. Juggling caregiving duties with childcare responsibilities and work commitments can result in burnout.

Financial stresses are also a major concern, as the sandwich generation is responsible for the financial obligations of two generations. For example, they may be paying more to raise their children and support their parents financially if their parents have not planned for their later years.

Canada ranks sixth globally in terms of life expectancy, with an average of 81.2 years, trailing behind countries like Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, and Sweden. Compared to half a century ago, when the average Canadian lifespan was only 71 years, this indicates a society in which people require financial support for a much longer time. Moreover, this trend of increasing life expectancy is projected to continue, and by the turn of the 22nd century, the average Canadian is expected to live beyond 90 years.

It’s important to have a transparent dialogue regarding the desired standard of living and care as parents age. Factors such as various living standards, associated costs with caregiving, and available social programs should be considered. Do parents prefer their expenses to be covered by their children or are they concerned about being a financial burden? Additionally, a “Sandwich” child needs to assess whether they’re financially capable of fulfilling their parents’ wishes and the impact it may have on the future generations of their family.

What can help those in the sandwich generation?

There are several ways that those in the sandwich generation can manage their financial stress.

First, embracing financial planning and creating budgets and systems is critical. Seeking the advice of a financial planner can be helpful in managing finances.

Second, having open and honest conversations with parents about their expectations for the standard of living and care is important.  It’s also essential to have discussions about their wishes for end-of-life care and to have wills, powers of attorney, and personal directives in place.

Finally, planning for child-rearing costs is necessary, as they can add up quickly.

Being realistic and aware of financial situations is crucial to managing stress.