The oldest people in the United States today are the ones who remain of the greatest generation born around 1900 to 1920 and are loosely described as the individuals who helped in the war effort of World War II, whether it was in the armed forces, in the factories, or on the home front.
There is no doubt that this was a strong generation because they won the war and went on to pull this country out of the Great Depression, an era of economic disaster.
Every two or three decades, the people living during that time period become known as members of a certain generation. During the last century, you find the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Lost Generation, Silent Generation, Traditional Generation and Generation X. The Millennial Generation ends out the century with those born between 1977 and 1997.
There is a newly defined generation – the Sandwich Generation. Unlike the other generations, the sandwich generation is of no designated age group. If you have children and parents who are still living, you are a member of the sandwich generation and you will be wise to give some thought to possible future happenings.
The members of the sandwich generation are caught between two generations and the toll can be devastating. The burden is not confined to finances, although finances can cause much of the worry.
In addition to raising children, there are the normal problems associated with the aging of the parents, including financial, legal and medical conditions.
The stress of caring for two generations at the same time can affect the health of the caregiver, a marriage and relations with friends or family, and even can be a factor in the work place.
Consider what you would do if called upon to care for your aging parents while you still care for your own children. It is extremely important that you have a substantial emergency fund, especially if parents are not living near your home.
Suze Orman, well-known money manager, uses a sum equal to eight month’s income as an acceptable amount for your personal emergency fund. Practicality would demand even more.
In past years, generation after generation may have lived in the same locale, often on the same land. That is not true now and the distance apart adds to the worry. It is estimated that over seven million Americans are now involved in long distance care-giving.
People are living longer today and this complicates the issue further. Often, aging parents feel ashamed that they cannot take care of themselves and do not make the children aware of any problem until it is too late for it to be resolved.
Carol Abaya, a well-known journalist whose syndicated columns have reached over a million people, is credited with coining the term “sandwich generation” and in addition to that term has offered definitions of the different categories of the sandwich generation.
The sandwich generation is composed of anyone — regardless of age — who has both a child and a parent who are living.
The club sandwich generation members are those between 50 and 60 years old who are sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren or those between 30 and 40 with young children, aging parents and grandparents..
The open face generation is anyone else involved in elder care, which includes grandparents with children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
At least 25 percent of today’s population is involved in elder care, so if you are not now involved, you probably will be.
Whatever category you find yourself in, be prepared to accept your responsibility for those who were there for you when you needed them.
The sandwich generation may become known as the very greatest of all the generations because of their care given to more than one other generation.