At this time, the individual's parents were ?80 years old. If we take 75 to be the year at which caregiving begins, there is a period of 5 years where simultaneous demands are placed on the baby boomer (2005).
However, their evidence did not support the notion that baby boomers are spending more time as dual caregivers because of delayed childbearing. For example, they contrasted the baby boomer with their parent's generation, and discovered a simultaneous caregiving demand of approximately 5 years as well (Rogerson and Kim, 2005). These results did not disprove the notion that sandwich generation members had a longer period of dual-caregiving duties. However, it does suggest that delayed childbearing is not the cause of the overlap. Instead, their analysis revealed that "the timing itself places no additional demands on baby boomers. Increasing life expectancies, however, have implied that baby boomers' parents are more likely to be alive and in need of caregiving, relative to the situation faced by the boomers' parents" (Rogerson and Kim, 2005). However, this increase in parental life expectancy may be somewhat mitigated by the fact that baby boomers are more likely to come from families with a large number of siblings, so that the burden of parent-care can be distributed among siblings (Rogerson and Kim, 2005).
In fact, while Rogerson and Kim do not deny the existence of a sandwich generation, they think that the generation following the baby boomers may actually experience far greater dual demands than their parents face. Basing their population distribution models on the assumption that the children of baby boomers will also delay having children, they determined that the children of the baby boomers face a potential dual-care-giving period of 10 years. "In addition, the situation will be exacerbated by the fact that these individuals will have fewer siblings to share in the care of their baby boomer parents (relative to the situation faced by their baby-boomer parents, who had relatively more siblings to share in the caregiving). The difficulties that might soon face baby boomers with respect to receiving care from their children could easily be as great as any difficulties imposed by feeling sandwiched" (Rogerson and Kim, 2005).
Some people disagree with the whole sandwich analogy, completely. For example, Berger believes that the "analogy to a sandwich, making it seem as if the middle generation is squeezed by obligations to the younger and the older, is vivid- but it is not very accurate" (2005). Instead, she points out that each member of the middle generation chooses whether or not to provide upward assistance. Moreover, she indicates that "most choose not to provide financial or caregiving help to any of the older generation" (Berger, 2005). Caregiving is linked to people being generous, and can make caregivers responsible for their parents and for their adult children (Berger, 2005). Furthermore, caregiving provides benefits to the caregiver, especially when the caregiving burden is not too demanding, which characterizes the majority of middle-aged caregiving relationships.
There is no question that some middle-aged people are called upon to be caregivers for their adult parents while still caring for minor children or adult children still living in the home, the idea of a sandwich generation is a bit of a misnomer. The vast majority of baby boomers are not caring for elderly parents. Instead, some members of the generation seem to be taking on a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for the elderly in the generation above the boomers. However, it seems likely that these people are also reaping disproportionate benefits, as caregiving, despite all of its stresses, seems to improve overall quality of life for the caregivers. Instead of considering the boomers the sandwich generation, it might be more helpful to picture them as returning to an older tradition that involved multiple generations in the family home, rather than the relative isolation of the nuclear family.
Berger, (2005). The developing person though the life span. New York: Worth Publishers.
Bogolea, K. (2008). Rural caregivers living in shadowland. Retrieved February 15, 2009 from Caregiver.com
Web site: http://www.caregiver.com/channels/rural/articles/sandwich_generation.htm
Chait, J. (2009). Sandwich generation. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from LovetoKnow.com
Web site: http://seniors.lovetoknow.com/Sandwich_Generation
Cunningham, S. (2005). Unwrapping the sandwich generation: Life vignettes about seniors and their adult boomer children. Garden City, NY: Morgan James Publishing, LLC.
Rogerson, P. & Kim, D. (2005). Population distribution and redistribution of the baby-boom cohort in the United States: Recent trends…