Touching the Sandwich Generation

July 13, 2020


Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who are the most stressed Americans of them all?

A new demographic segment has evolved over the past fifty years, as average lifespan has increased and couples have delayed starting families.  We know it as the “Sandwich Generation” – that cohort of middle-aged adults who are charged with the responsibility of child-rearing while facing the reality of having to provide care and support for aging parents.  Nearly one of eight Americans, 40-60, falls into this group.  Given that July is National Sandwich Generation Month (there really is one: it is officially registered within the National Special Events Registry), this is an appropriate time to consider this rather unique and somewhat needy prospect group.

The term, “Sandwich Generation” was first coined in 1981.  It is now so common place that the Merriam-Webster added the term to their dictionary.  According to National Alliance for Caregiving, 9.3-million Americans are part of the Sandwich Generation today, and that number is expected to increase exponentially over the next two decades as the Baby Boomer population gets older.

The Sandwich Generation Caregiver’s Plight

According to Pew Research Center, the average Sandwich Generation caregiver is being hammered financially, physically and emotionally.  They commit approximately $10,000 and 1,350 hours a year on the care they provide – spending more money on children but more time on aging parents. 

As a result. they are experiencing high levels of stress, not only from the incremental financial demands created by the multigenerational care, but because they simply do not have enough time in the day to manage their careers, handle their multitude of household/family responsibilities and still make time for themselves.

The 1,350 hours a year that the average Sandwich Generation caregiver commits to caregiving translates to roughly 26 hours a week.  That’s a huge drain on anyone who is also holding down a full-time job.  According to MetLife, 62% of all employed caregivers say they must make some sort of workplace accommodation, such as leaving early, taking a leave-of-absence or dropping back to part-time.  For the Sandwich Generation, these numbers are probably higher.

Targeting this Needy Audience

Ultimately, there are three overriding needs the Sandwich Generation craves to address:

  1. Relief of physical and emotional stress caused by the burdens of caring for their children and aging parents, ranging from fatigue and sleeplessness to fear and anxiety.
  2. Relief from financial demands attached to supporting and caring for children and parents, including both out-of-pocket expenses and often tasks relating to managing the loved one’s general financial affairs.
  3. Relief from depression that can arise out of stress and financial hardship.

Any product or service that can be positioned to offer relief for any of these three needs will be valued by an overworked, overstressed Sandwich Generation caregiver. 

Does it save time?

Does it reduce work? 

Can it help save money? 

Can it reduce friction among family members? 

Does it offer a means of self-care, like exercise, proper nutrition or rest? 

Can it be a self-reward the caregiver can give herself (yeah, the burden of caregiving usually falls on a female)?

The Sandwich Generation is hurting, and they crave help.  They are a large cohort.  They are not hard to find.  And they will be responsive to any product or service that can offer some help or relief.