California Partnership for Long Term Care

California's Sandwich Generation Caregivers

With couples having children later in life and California’s aging population growing, the demand for sandwich generation caregivers—those caring for their children and elderly parents at the same time—is expected to grow rapidly in the coming decades. 

Sandwich generation caregivers face significant time and financial pressures, particularly for the majority of those who also strive to balance a full-time or part-time job. Although caregiving provides personal gratification to many caregivers, it comes at a well-documented cost to caregivers and their employers. Most sandwich generation caregivers are not paid for the time they spend providing care, yet they spend thousands of dollars each year on caregiving. These costs come in addition to the losses in wages and benefits they face if they need to cut back on the number of hours they work or if they need to leave their jobs altogether.

Providing care for an elderly family member while concurrently managing their responsibilities as parents places sandwich generation caregivers at greater risk for poor health. Sandwich generation caregivers in California report poorer mental, physical and emotional health than non-caregivers or those who care only for children, which often impacts their personal relationships and their work. California employers are also impacted by the negative effects associated with sandwich caregiving, facing significant financial losses from absenteeism, workday interruptions and caregivers’ higher health care costs.

Nearly two million Californians (approximately 10 percent of the population) provide care for elderly parents or relatives while also taking care of children in 2009. The competing demands on these sandwich generation caregivers put them at great risk of burnout, with adverse implications for their caregiving, their employers and their own health.