Stuck in the Middle! The Sandwich Generation

Written by: Mary Ellen Nessmith, MPA

December, 2016


One out of eight Americans are raising children and caring for their parents. Many of these individuals are also working full time. As people are living longer and delaying the start of families, this issue continues to become more prevalent. “Sandwich Caregiver” is a term originally coined by social worker Dorothy Miller to describe women in their 30’s and 40’s who were “sandwiched” between young children and aging parents (Tarantine, 2014). The sandwich caregiver has long been associated with the Baby Boomers, however the balance is shifting as Generation X ages into caregiving of both children and parents (Stevenson, 2014). Men are more commonly caregivers today, too. Caring for children and parents simultaneously can be overwhelming. Comprehending how to face these challenges and knowing how to ask for help is difficult. Often times when one is caring for multiple family members it is difficult to remember self-care. Below are tips on how to care for yourself, including benefits for Emory University employees that can provide assistance for a sandwich caregiver.


Sandwich Caregiver Self Care Tips

1. Seek assistance: Whether you are hiring caregivers or reaching out to family members: ask for help.

2. Hold family meetings: It is important to communicate the needs and issues of those you are caring for. This is also a good time to ask family members for assistance.

3. Be aware of home and community based services in your community: Every bit of assistance helps when managing the care of multiple people.

4. Put caring for your health needs first: Many family members are counting on you. The entire caregiving hierarchy will break down if you are not able to function physically, mentally or emotionally.

5. Take spontaneous breaks: Find some time for yourself even if it is limited. Utilize a doctor’s office wait times, take a walk, or spend some quiet time alone. If someone offers to help- accept.

6. Plan ahead for your own children: Make both emotional and financial plans to help your children who may find themselves in a similar situation in th


How Emory University Can Assist a Sandwich Caregiver?


Emory University is dedicated to helping caregivers in the workplace. It is clear sandwich caregivers are challenged with working, caring for children and adult loved ones. The Emory WorkLife Resource Center has many options to available to helping manage the responsibilities of being a Sandwich Caregiver!

1. Emergency back-up care: Bright Horizons Care Advantage is available to assist with emergency or unexpected care needs for both children and adults. (available nationwide)

2. Care Direct/Sitter City: Emory provides a yearly membership to employees to assist with anticipated care needs.

3. Information and referral/assistance with research- Emory employees have access to e4Health a service that can assist in researching both adult, childcare and work life issues nationwide.

4. Emory Employee Student Job Network A program designed to help Emory faculty and staff looking to hire Emory student’s on a part-time basis to help with work life responsibilities such as babysitting or adult care.

5. Emory Care Consultation-Opportunity to meet with an elder care expert one on one via phone or in person to help navigate Emory benefits, private care and community options for employees.

6. Professional care management: Nationwide access to an aging expert such as a nurse or licensed clinical social worker who can meet and assess the adult who is in need of care.

7. Long-term care insurance- This is insurance that pays for medical care in the event of a lengthy disability, especially at the end of life. It is available for purchase through UNUM for every Emory University employee (and some family members). This benefit allows you to plan for your own future by preparing financially for the cost of care. You can also purchase this type of insurance privately.

8. Emory University Childcare Network-Provides discounts and priority admissions. The network has approximately 175 child care centers.

9. Resources for Emory Parents- Provided by the Emory Work Life Resource Center


Contact Mary Ellen Nessmith at (404)-727-4177 if you have any questions related to benefits for Sandwich Caregivers or The Emory Caregiver Support Program.

Parker, Kim & Patten, Eileen (2013). The Sandwich Generation: Rising Financial Burdens for Middle Aged Americans. Retrieved from:
Stevenson, Sarah (2014).


Honoring Caregivers: July is Sandwich Generation Month. Retrieved from:

Tarantine, Ruth (2014).


The Sandwich Generation: Who is Caring for You? Retrieved from: