Caring for the Caregiver: Navigating the Challenges of Multigenerational Responsibility

Caregiving is an act of love and dedication, often performed by family members for their aging parents and, increasingly, for their own children simultaneously. This dual role can place caregivers under immense physical, emotional, and financial strain. Understanding the unique challenges they face and offering practical support is essential in fostering a compassionate and sustainable caregiving environment.

In the United States, the demographic shift towards an aging population has significantly impacted the dynamics of family caregiving. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP’s “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020” report, approximately 53 million Americans are providing unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs. This figure includes those caring for elderly parents while also raising children, known as the “sandwich generation.” Around 12% of caregivers are part of the sandwich generation, balancing the care of aging parents and their own children. The average age of these caregivers is 49 years, with women constituting approximately 61% of the caregiver population. On average, caregivers spend 23.7 hours per week providing care, with 1 in 4 spending over 41 hours per week. Nearly 1 in 5 caregivers report experiencing high financial strain due to caregiving responsibilities. Out-of-pocket expenses for caregivers are significant, with annual costs averaging $7,400. 61% of caregivers are employed, and many report difficulties balancing work and caregiving duties. About 1 in 5 caregivers have reduced work hours or taken a leave of absence to fulfill their caregiving role.

Physical Health: The physical demands of caregiving, such as lifting and assisting with daily activities, can lead to health problems, including chronic pain and fatigue.

Emotional Strain: Caregivers often experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. The constant need to be alert and responsive can lead to burnout.

Social Isolation: The demands of caregiving can limit social interactions and support networks, contributing to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Financial Stress: The financial burden of caregiving, coupled with potential lost income, can lead to significant economic strain.

A national poll on healthy aging was recently conducted by the University of Michigan and the results found that only a small minority of U.S. residents over age 50 – less than 10% – said they had used public resources for older adults and caregivers, including Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) or State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), or knew a lot about their options for long term services and supports (LTSS). Moreover, 67% of older adults across the country said they were not familiar with AAAs, 75% were not aware of SHIPs, and 88% said they did not know anything or very little, about their options for receiving LTSS.

The Berks County Area Agency on Aging and Berks Encore are here to help older adults and their family members. Berks Encore’s Care+ program involves an in-home assessment by a Care Manager to develop a personalized care plan to connect older adults and their caregivers to valuable community resources with the goal of helping them age safely at home. Call 484-577-4243; Email or visit

Similar Posts