‘Sandwich generation’ study shows challenges of caring for both kids and aging parents: Millions of Americans juggle caregiving for two generations; new analysis shows the strain on their time, and financial and mental health

Their older parents need care. Their kids are still under 18. And they probably have a job, too.

They’re the “sandwich generation” — a longtime nickname for the mostly female, mostly middle-aged group of Americans who serve as caregivers for both older and younger family members at once.

A new study estimates there are at least 2.5 million of them, while giving a detailed view into who they are, and which older adults rely on them.

In all, nearly one quarter of adults who provide care for at least one parent over the age of 65 also take care of at least one child under 18, according to the new study from a team based in the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry.

Writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers show how being in the middle of a caregiving sandwich differs from being a caregiver with an older adult, but no minor children, to care for.

Overall, sandwich generation caregivers were twice as likely to report financial difficulty (36% vs. 17%) and more likely to report substantial emotional difficulty (44% vs. 32%) than their peers who only act as caregiver to a parent over 65.

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