Eldercare and The Sandwich Generation

With declining fertility rates and an increased longevity of chronic illness, the boomer generation is facing a huge problem. The typical 45-55 year old woman now spends more time taking care of their parents than they are rearing their children. The “typical” woman works full time and spends 18 hours per week taking care of their 78-year-old mother. One husband and wife couple explains that they have two children, three living parents, a stepparent and a living grandparent for a total of two children to five parents. This case is not unusual for the modern baby boom generation. With common instances of double-decker families, families with four generations of people, the caregiving crunch is definitely going to take its toll for the sandwich generation. Nearly a quarter of all caregiving households provide more than 40 hours of unpaid, informal care to their elders.

Today’s eldercare-givers are mostly women; an estimated 73 percent are women. An estimated 75% of women from the ages of 45-55 are now in the workforce compared to just 40 percent in the year 1950. To complicate the matters even further, 40 percent of these women have children under the age of 18 that rely on them financially. This leads the modern elder-caregiver to juggle work, rearing children, and the huge task of eldercare.

The fact is, the average American in the 21st century will spend more years taking care of their parents than rearing their children. In a report by the AARP, nearly half of all caregivers said that had to alter their work schedules, by taking time off of work or rescheduling their days to accommodate eldercare giving. The AARP study also found that some 12 percent of eldercare givers had to leave work altogether to tend to their parents. For corporations, this leads to an ever-increasing amount of absenteeism and unexpected labor shortages.

As Americans decide to have fewer children, there is a gap in the amount of people left to take care of them when they are older. Today’s elder generation had an average of four children per household compared to today’s boomer generation that has only two children per household.

These problems ultimately, lead to the need for more long-term care initiatives and options for our sandwich generation. Programs such as Independent Living Center and home health agencies are offering services to connect people with affordable home health aides. ConnectingCaregivers.com is also unveiling a service in the coming months to give families a list of prescreened home health aides in their local area to choose from.

Last Modified April 27, 2009 @ 11:03 pm
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