National Alliance for Caregiving and Caring Across Generations release a statistically representative snapshot of workers who are balancing family responsibilities and care.
The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) in partnership with Caring Across Generations released Burning the Candle at Both Ends: Sandwich Generation Caregiving in the U.S. on November 26, 2019. This new report illuminates the challenges facing working parents who are providing intergenerational care. More than 11 million Americans are caring for an adult family member due to health needs or disability, while also caring for children at home.
The report analyzes data from more than 300 Sandwich Generation caregivers, and compared to non-sandwich caregivers from a nationally representative dataset from the 2015 study, Caregiving in the U.S. (conducted initially by NAC and the AARP Public Policy Institute). The research firm, Greenwald & Associates, conducted the data analysis with input from a small Advisory Committee of nationally- and internationally-recognized researchers. Dr. Joe Caldwell from Brandeis University, Dr. Feylyn Lewis of the University of Sussex, and Dr. Margaret Longacre of Arcadia University reviewed the findings and provided perspectives from their fields of study. The report also includes caregiver vignettes and policy implications drawn from the quantitative findings.
Compared to other types of caregivers, the Sandwich Generation caregivers are younger, more ethnically diverse, and newer to caregiving than non-Sandwich Generation caregivers. Many represent Generation X and Millennials, who are launching careers and families while caring for an older relative.
Key findings highlighted some of the pain points:
- Sandwich caregivers spent an average of 22 hours a week to caring for someone, while often simultaneously juggling work
- Roughly one-third of Sandwich Caregivers reported emotional stress, and one of five indicate a high level of financial and physical strain.
- Sandwich Caregivers most commonly help with transportation (80%), housework (76%), and preparing meals (62%).
- Very few feel prepared to do the medical/nursing tasks (19%)
“Families are squeezed, and they need help to balance work and home life,” said C. Grace Whiting, J.D., President/CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving. “National conversations are heating up on paid family and medical leave, universal childcare, and the need to expand long-term services and supports. Now is the time to invest in workplace flexibility and a robust national infrastructure that can support and augment care for the friends and family who need our care.”
Data revealed that most Sandwich Caregivers supported programs that would supplement their income while they were caregiving or an earned income tax credit to compensate them for their work, even if these programs were unavailable or hard to access.
Other challenges align with potential workplace solutions. The data show that:
- One in five sandwich caregivers report feeling financial strain as a result of being a caregiver, and 25% said it was hard to find affordable services for their friend or family member.
- Caregivers often lack workplace benefits, such as paid leave. As a result, Sandwich Caregivers miss work or cut down work hours during their prime working and long-term saving years.
- More than eight out of ten (85%) wanted information on at least one caregiving related topic, including managing stress (44%)
“So many of us are already dealing with the dual stresses of Sandwich Generation caregiving, and it will only get worse if we don’t receive the support that we need,” said Josephine Kalipeni, Policy Director of Caring Across Generations. “Caregiving doesn’t have to be unsupported or isolating. Lawmakers have the opportunity now to make real change for our nation’s caregivers. Together, we can build a holistic system that acknowledges our varied caregiving needs, across cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and that makes care supports accessible, affordable, and flexible for 21st-century families.”
“Many characteristics and issues facing Sandwich Caregivers mirror those facing caregivers in general,” said Joe Caldwell, Ph.D., of the Community Policy Living Center, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University. “However, the report highlights some important differences, particularly greater time demands and potential implications for health and economic well-being. Moreover, not only are Sandwich Caregivers more racially/ethnically diverse, there is great variation within this population. The report reminds us of the need to develop policies and practices that are flexible and approach families holistically, using a person- and family-centered approach based on an assessment of their unique situation and needs.”
NAC and Caring Across Generations will release the report in a national briefing with a live webcast. Hosted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the briefing will honor the contributions of caregivers ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday and celebrate the role of friends and family in the spirit of National Family Caregivers Month. Caregivers with lived experience balancing work and intergenerational care needs will provide their perspectives alongside national policy experts and researchers.
Made possible with grant funding from MassMutual, the report is available at http://bit.ly/WorkCareSandwich.
About the National Alliance for Caregiving
Established in 1996, the National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of national organizations focusing on advancing family caregiving through research, innovation, and advocacy. The Alliance conducts research, does policy analysis, develops national best-practice programs, and works to increase public awareness of family caregiving issues. Recognizing that family caregivers provide significant societal and financial contributions toward maintaining the well-being of those they care for, the Alliance supports a network of more than 80 state and local caregiving coalitions and serves as Secretariat for the International Alliance of Carer Organizations (IACO).
About Caring Across Generations
Caring Across Generations is a national movement of families, caregivers, people with disabilities, and aging Americans working to transform the way we care in this country. By harnessing the power of online and grassroots organizing and culture change work, we are shifting how our nation values caregiving and calling for policy solutions that enable all of us to live well and age with dignity.
About Mass Mutual
The SpecialCare program, developed by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, provides access to information and resources to families with dependents of any age who have a disability. The program’s holistic approach involves a person with special needs’ network of advisors, including a Special Care Planner or other financial professional that specializes in working with special needs. Our mission is to help educate families and caregivers of people with special needs about the importance and steps in creating a life care plan to help provide a secure financial future.
About Greenwald and Associates
Greenwald & Associates is a full-service custom research firm, specializing in the areas of healthcare, financial services, and employee benefits.