By Chris Adams

The “sandwich generation” doesn’t begin to explain it.

Amy Goyer, a caregiving and aging expert for AARP, has tailored her life around the needs of her parents as they aged and experienced Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating health conditions.

And she knows that she is far, far from alone.

Goyer is author of “Juggling Life, Work, and Caregiving” and a regular writer for AARP. She uses her own story to illustrate what happens to families everywhere, and then shares the sometimes-surprising statistics on the caregiving culture in the U.S. People are caring for parents and children, of course, but also for spouses and siblings and sometimes grandchildren. Goyer sees it as more than a simple sandwich. She calls it instead the “Club Sandwich Generation.”

She described the caregiving community for National Press Foundation fellows, detailing statistics on who the caregivers are, who they are caring for, and how they’re handing the emotional, physical and financial strain from doing so.

As for the commonly cited sandwich generation, research from the Pew Research Center, she said, shows that of adults ages 40-59, 47 percent have a parent over age 65 and are raising a child at home or have a financially dependent adult child. And of those middle-age adults, 15 percent are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child. (For the full Pew study, click here.)

Goyer pointed fellows to AARP’s caregiving resource center, which has tools and tips on legal, financial, end-of-life, housing and other issues that people caring for others face.

Goyer also counseled people to keep the proper mindset in their own lives, saying that “too many times, caregivers feel victimized.” Her tips for helping keep that proper mindset:

  • Accept help: build a team around you;
  • Monitor your mindset;
  • See joy as a “survival skill”;
  • Remember to “fill your own tank”;
  • And change your definition of success – see “resilience as success.”