The Sandwich Generation: Counselors Find Adult Couples Squeezed Between Parents and Kids

Counselors, if your morning consists of a combination of organizing care for your children and your aging parents, you’re likely experiencing the squeeze of the “Sandwich Generation”.

The work-life balance is often out of whack for many in the Sandwich Generation because of the interminable amount of time it takes to care for everyone’s needs. Some could be one call-out-sick day away from losing their job; and many haven’t had a day to themselves in months. Moreover, the stress on couples can quickly put a rift between a usually healthy relationship.

There seems to never be enough time or money to cover all the demands.


Statistics provided by National Alliance for Caregiving show that there are approximately 66 million women caught in the cycle of caring for both children and aging parents while working a full-time job. These stats are further reinforced by the number of counseling clients who cite the stress of caring for both children and aging parents.

In a perfect world, elderly parents would have planned ahead for assisted living or extended care and purchased a comprehensive insurance policy to pay for it. The reality is, not everyone will have it or can afford to have it.

So what can you do if you are part of this hamster wheel of never-ending demands on your time and money and keep your relationship and family strong in the process?

  1. Stay connected with your support circle.
  2. In all the ups and downs of life, one fact remains: Your social support circle is a vital part of your emotional well-being. Because your time is limited, do your visiting in short spurts or while carrying out other tasks: Call a friend for a quick lunch or coffee, coordinate a grocery shopping trip with a friend, find a friend who will work out or take walks with you. You can always find ways to incorporate your support system without taking extended time away from home.

  3. Keep saving for retirement.
  4. This could be the most difficult area to manage because both children and parents are likely to need financial help.

    • It’s important to get financial advice for aging parents’ remaining assets and income to ensure proper management.
    • Adult children should be given responsibility of their own finances and dependent children of all ages need boundaries when it comes to spending your money.

    Avoid leaving yourself vulnerable to financial hardship when you are in or near retirement. If you can, work with a financial advisor to assist you with this essential task.

  5. Take care of yourself (and your relationship).
  6. It threatens to be the snowball that turns into an avalanche as you lose yourself in the daily rush of caring for everyone else. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could become so stretched and stressed that you aren’t helping anyone effectively. If you allow your regular exercise regimen and good eating habits to fall by the wayside, you may experience a weakened immune system, decreased energy, and less patience to deal with the tasks at hand. So be sure to take time for yourself! For couples, being sure to take time for each other is crucially important to keep the relationship healthy during such stressful times.

You are not alone. There are many people in your situation right now. Seek local organizations that may provide some type of help. Scour the Internet for resources. Don’t be shy about asking for help from other members of your family, church family, and neighbors. Many persons find that connecting and partnering with a local counselor (or couples counselor) is helpful for managing stress and strategizing ways to balance responsibilities. Finally, maintaining a strong, healthy you is essential to maintaining your strong, healthy family.

This article is presented by Thriveworks Atlanta Counseling and Life Coaching, 8800 Roswell Rd #255, Atlanta GA 30350. Call us at 404-719-\4233.

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Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore Ph.D. is Founder and CEO at Thriveworks--a counseling practice, focused on premium client care, with 80+ locations across the USA. He is Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and Author of How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice. Anthony is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."