This sandwich consumes 10 percent of California’s prime 40 and up career-minded men, but mostly women. They can’t stop thinking about it. Some have even given up their jobs for it. What sandwich can this be? Maybe it’s a hipster concoction of a pastrami burger on a brioche bun dripping with avocado aioli and homemade ketchup – or something like that.
Unfortunately, I’m talking about the growing number of adults, nearly two million Californians, who are taking care of both their children and aging parents. These “caregivers” are called the sandwich generation. So much for that delicious bite. According to the University of California, Berkeley, report, the facts are sobering. With more than 80 percent of long-term care still provided by family and friends without compensation, the sandwich generation is feeling the squeeze. Let me give you some key ingredients from that go into this “sandwich”:
- Typical sandwich generation caregiver in California:
- Middle-aged woman (average age 39)
- Well-educated, having obtained at least some college education
- Employed full-time
- Income is below the California median
- 93 percent of caregivers are not paid for the time spent providing care.
- 27 percent of caregivers in the U.S. reported a high degree of financial hardship from caregiving.
- Sandwiched caregivers in California more frequently report not being able to afford to eat balanced meals and hungry due to lack of money.
- Nearly half (47 percent) of California voters who are likely to need paid long-term care service in the next five years say they will not be able to afford one month of care, and the majority (75 percent) report they cannot afford more than three months of nursing home care.
- Caregivers are more likely to experience physical strain, emotional stress and financial hardship.
- Family caregiving in California was estimated at $47 billion in 2009, far exceeding the $12.8 billion in Medicaid spending for long-term care in the same year.
These bites are hard to swallow. California’s elderly population is growing, and rising health care costs are contributing to the increased demands of informal caregivers, but quite frankly, the menu options are extremely limited. As we move into the baby boomers’ silver age in the next decade, will California have more options, or are we doomed to have sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Jack Ohman draws his experience of caring for his dad in his editorial (click on the link for the full story):
For more in-depth look at UC Berkeley sandwich generation report, go to www.RUReadyCA.org.