The sandwich generation

A national law firm is providing a benefit unique to a generation. A support line for members of the “sandwich generation,” the baby-boomers who are trying to raise their own kids, while also taking care of their parents, according to the Boston Globe. Goodwin Proctor is setting up a hotline specifically for care-givers in its employ:

Staffed by registered nurses and geriatric social workers, it will help employees navigate the complex maze of medical and social services for the elderly and disabled, including housing, transportation, insurance, nutrition, and nursing care.

It will also offer assessments and referrals, and will field questions such as how to persuade aging parents to move into assisted living or give up their driver’s licenses.

In turn, the firm hopes the service will improve productivity and reduce turnover, since the time demands and emotional toll of caregiving can have a deleterious effect on workplace performance.

About 20 million people are in the “sandwich generation.” Joan Brunwasser, who heads a national group for election reform, described the challenges last week when her mother got sick near Election Day:

My mother was most considerate about when she get sick. Timing really is everything. Had she been ill on Monday night, I would have been hard pressed to be downtown with her and at my polling place by 5:00 the next morning. (I was a volunteer poll watcher on November 4th.) Likewise, if she had gotten sick on Election Day itself, I would have been physically incapable of responding that evening. After that long, long day, I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. At least I was able to rack up one good night’s sleep before the flu struck. Way to go, Mom!

Companies have good reason to consider adding the benefit. Members of the “sandwich generation” are more likely to get sick themselves, or lead an unhealthy life, according to a study this month from Indiana University.

Compared with people caring for a single generation, people in the sandwich generation were less likely to check food labels, wear seat belts or choose foods based on health values. They also smoke more.

Are you a member of the sandwich generation? Tell me about your life. You can either post in the comments below, or write to me using this form and we can talk about it.

  • Steve

    Good piece.

    I want to start a national targeted sandwich genation organization to help others deal with this issues.

    My wife and I went through it…not a pretty sight…but we got through it. We are the top slice of the sandwich now with both sets of parents gone and only our adult children remain–but no grandchildren to date.