The Sandwich Generation is a term used to describe people who care for aging parents while simultaneously raising young kids. Sandwiched between growing and aging. Pressed on both sides by demands for time, for care, for love, for decision making.
Parenting resources are endlessly available. How-to. When-to. Why-to. Books, magazines, workshops, experts. Whatever the question, there are multiple answers covering multiple parenting styles, right at our fingertips, all the time.
But what happens when our parents also need our care? What happens when our parents need appointments scheduled, meals made, transportation provided?
What happens when we're raising kids, working jobs, and caregiving?
For this, the resources are almost non-existent. The guidance? Unavailable. The compensation? Gurl, please. Not only can the emotional toll be huge, the financial ramifications are undeniable and far-reaching.
In an in-depth article, Eldercare: The Crisis Facing America's Working Daughters, The Atlantic lays it out for us:
There are currently 44 million unpaid eldercare providers in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the majority are women. And yet there are very few support programs, formal or informal, in place to support these family caregivers, many of whom are struggling at work and at home. Working daughters often find they need to switch to a less demanding job, take time off, or quit work altogether in order to make time for their caregiving duties. As a result, they suffer loss of wages and risk losing job-related benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings, and Social Security benefits. In fact, a study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving calculated women lose an average $324,044 in compensation due to caregiving.
As America ages -- nearly 1 in 5 people will be 65 or older by 2030 -- this issue only worsens. Not only do these "working daughter" caregivers lose income, but this begs a pressing question: what's the greater economic impact if, particularly with a growing nursing shortage, women en masse are forced to step out of careers in order to care for aging parents?
calculated the cost to businesses to replace women caregivers who quit their jobs because of their caregiving responsibilities at an estimated $3.3 billion. And how will society pay for the care that these women, with their compromised pensions, retirement funds, and savings accounts, will inevitably need?
Yes. How indeed?
For more on this important conversation, check Daughterhood.org, a non-profit dedicated to helping women stuck in the sandwich.
Because of all this, and so much more ... I resolve to stay the course set out by our courageous foremothers who fought pointedly, persistently for equality. I'm a woman raising a daughter in a world that values her more for her bone structure than her brain. This is my resolution. This is my feminist manifesto.
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that’s the only resolution I care to make. For both my own health, and as an important example to my kids, this year, I'm resolving to practice a kindness that starts from within.