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What Is The Sandwich Generation

What Is The Sandwich Generation

Who Are The Sandwich Generation

Generation X and a subset of younger baby-boomers are increasingly finding themselves carers for their ageing parents while raising their own children.  They are “sandwiched” between responsibilities for parents and children, hence the term “sandwich generation”.

It’s a difficult place to be.  A large US research study has found a link between carers from the “sandwich generation” and poor health. Other studies have shown negative impacts include caregiver stress, a forced reduction or cessation in employment and decreased quality in child care and relationships.  In one US study, a participant told the following story

I was a single mom at the time.  They really needed me here and then it would be my night to go shower mum and put her to bed.  I’d cry sometimes all the way there and then I’d get there and Mum would be sitting there, facing the wall.  And then you’d cry on the way home because how could I think that I didn’t need to be there

Caregiving, The Sandwich Generation & Their Health

A 2014 research study in the “found that the association between caregiving and poor health generally increased with the number of children present within a household.  This finding suggests that there may be increased caregiver stress among the sandwich generation of adults that care for both their elderly family members of friends and underage children simultaneously”*

According to Carers Australia,

  • There are 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia
  • They provide 1.32 billion hours of unpaid care in 2010
  • This comes at a productivity loss of $6.5b

It’s difficult to know exactly how many of that 2.7 million unpaid carers are from the sandwich generation.  But it is likely that a great many are.  This US study found that 2 out of 5 caregivers were from the sandwich generation.  If that were applied to Australia, then 1.08 million Australians are from the sandwich generation and therefore juggling demands of raising children and caring for ageing parents.  With the ageing population, this is going to expand dramatically.  That will have considerable impact on many people’s live.  The US study looking at the link between negative impacts on the sandwich generation found that our American sandwich generation equivalents were on average absent from work for 6.6 days a year due to caregiving demands.  More than a third of the study participants were found to reduce work commitments or resign from their roles to free more time to the increasing responsibilities.  Further, this study found this:

A small but growing body of evidence suggests that members of the sandwich generation may be at higher risk of impaired health behaviours since caregiving reduces the amount of time available for engaging in personal health behaviours

Get An Ageing Plan

Phill works with sandwich generation families to plan the short, medium and long term care of their ageing parents.  “Seniors just want to stay at home, don’t they?  But it’s terribly difficult without the right supports.   Adult children worry about the safety of their ageing parents and opt for nursing homes.  I can keep anyone at home with the right structure, but it takes some planning”.  iNightingale have recently launched their Family Coaching Service, where they sit down with a family, undertake an assessment and develop a plan.  “It’s like sitting with a Financial Planner to chat about your financial goals, they go away to work up some modelling and then return to you with a financial plan.  We do that, but we plan ageing.”


Do, E. K., Cohen, S. A. & Brown, M. J. (2014).  “Socioeconomic and demographic factors modify the association between informal caregiving and health in the Sandwich Genration” BioMedical Central Public Health (14): 362.
Schumacher, L. A. P., MacNeil, R., Mobily, K., Teague, M. & Butcher, H. (2012).  “The Leisure Journey for Sandwich Generation Caregivers” Therapeutic Recreation Journal 46(1): 42-59.


Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google 

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