What is the Sandwich Generation?

Last updated: 13/06/2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

The term “sandwich generation” is in reference to people within a particular age group (predominantly adults in their 40s-50s) who are sandwiched between two obligations of care. These people may be pressured into having to support their growing children and their own ageing parents at the same time. 

This support can be anything from financial, emotional, or even the physical support needed by elderly people to do their shopping or do other daily tasks. The sandwich generation will most likely spend their time either looking after their children or tending to the needs of their parents, all while working full-time jobs. 

The fact that people are living longer and having children later in life has increased the number of individuals now living out the sandwich generation experience.

In This Guide:

Could Life Insurance Reduce Pressure on the Sandwich Generation?

For the sandwich generation, life can sometimes feel as if it’s just one continual day that never ends. With so much to do and so many people to look after, there’s seldom time to ever sit and put your feet up, let alone plan ahead for the future of you and your loved ones. 

But is there a potential light at the end of the tunnel through finding the right life insurance policy for your specific needs? Could life insurance for over 50s be the key to reducing some of the pressure that the sandwich generation faces? 

Ultimately, only you can decide that. But to help you find the right policy and potential life insurance payout to alleviate some of that stress, let’s take a look at some of the policies that may assist people of the sandwich generation. 

What Pressure is there on the Sandwich Generation?

The responsibilities listed above create a tense and stressful environment for the sandwich generation. For many people, their daily routines become waking up, looking after their children and elderly parents, working full-time and trying to coexist (all under the same roof in many cases) seven days a week. 

This leads to the following pressures on these individuals: 


If having to look after two different generations of a family while trying to run your own life sounds exhausting, try to imagine the costs associated with this responsibility. The hours of unpaid labour pale in comparison to the damage it can do to someone’s career or the income of a household, as well as the following monetary obstacles:

  • The need for reduced work hours to look after several people 
  • The medical costs associated with ageing parents in need of care
  • The potential costs of retirement and care homes 
  • Higher education and other financial support costs for children 
  • Childcare costs for younger children 


For some people who are essentially unpaid full-time carers for their parents and children, there’s a huge physical toll on their bodies. The unhealthy amount of stress and physical excursions needed to be up and about constantly with no rest can be extremely damaging to their health. 


The physical and financial toll this takes on a person can also lead to some significant emotional problems that become potential mental health issues further down the line. In fact, these emotional issues can cause a lack of sleep, high blood pressure and even depression in some cases. 


The circumstances of this stress, whether it’s several different generations living under one roof or a person having to run around between homes to care for others, can be detrimental to everyone’s future. Postponing retirement or putting the best years of their lives on hold to look after others are common circumstances that the sandwich generation deals with. 

How Can Life Insurance Help with these Issues?

It’s not always easy for the sandwich generation to stop and consider the future. But that future is on its way, and everyone should attempt to plan ahead to benefit themselves and their loved ones. So, how can getting a potential life insurance payout help? And which type of coverage suits the particular need of your situation? 

  • The situation: Let’s say that you’re over the age of 50 and have the responsibility of caring for your ageing parents while also helping out your children who are in their twenties but can't afford to move out of the house. 
  • The potential life insurance policy: That’s a great deal of burden on one person’s shoulders. But with life insurance for over 50s policies, you can find coverage that’s aimed at helping with end-of-life costs like funeral expenses. Because life insurance for over 50s policies offers whole-of-life coverage, there tends to be a life insurance payout when the policyholder dies. Something else that comes with life insurance for over 50s policies is the ability to gain a guaranteed acceptance, making them ideal for people with pre-existing health conditions who are looking to help their loved ones financially in the future. 
  • The situation: Perhaps you’re the sole breadwinner of the family. You have an adult child still living at home due to a disability or financial problems. An elderly parent also lives with you as care homes are too expensive. You’re supporting the entire household financially and worry over what could happen if you also become seriously ill and can no longer work. 
  • The potential life insurance policy: Critical illness cover can protect you in the event of a serious illness that prevents you from working. The definition of a serious illness may differ depending on the insurer, but critical illness cover generally covers around 40 illnesses like heart attacks, cancer, and strokes. You can add critical illness cover to a term life policy, turning it into a life and critical illness policy. Critical illness cover will provide a life insurance payout in the event of death or critical illness once and once only. This means the policy will end after a claim, leaving no critical illness cover left for additional illnesses and deaths. Standalone coverage is also available with some insurance brokers. 
  • The situation: The physical, financial, and emotional toll of raising children while working full-time and having to visit and care for an elderly parent has been exhausting. You’re worried that if you get a severe injury or long-term illness that exceeds the limits of your statutory sick pay, there will be no one to pay the household bills and other expenses. 
  • The potential life insurance policy: Income protection, sometimes also known as redundancy insurance, can help you to replace income in the event of an illness or disability that leaves you unable to work. An income protection policy will pay a monthly portion of your current income (the amount will vary, but in some cases, it may be up to 75% of your current income) and continue until you either return to work, retire, or pass away. 

Redundancy insurance policies tend to come with a deferral period (again the timelines of this deferral period can vary depending on the insurer) before a life insurance payout can be made. Generally speaking, the longer the deferral period of your income protection coverage is, the cheaper the policy will be.

Please Note: Not all insurance providers we work with offer all types of policies. Please do your research and compare quotes before proceeding.

The Sandwich Generation: Helping You and the Family for Today and Tomorrow

As you can see, there are some life insurance policies that may potentially suit your situation. However, only you can decide what the best policy is for your needs. When it comes to looking after your loved ones, regardless of which generation, it’s easy to forget two very important things. 

The first thing is to make sure you aren’t going to burn out and make yourself sick by running around and looking after so many people in such stressful circumstances. The second thing is to try and look beyond the immediate future. And while this is easier said than done for many people in the sandwich generation, it’s something that’s vitally important to plan ahead for and understand.

Tips for Making the Sandwich Less Stressful 

  • Make sure you’re considering your own needs and health requirements as well as the needs of others.
  • Delegate some of the care to spouses, capable adult children, neighbours, and other trusted friends. This will allow you a little more time to stop and take care of yourself. 
  • Even relatives who live far away and want to help can do so by making doctor’s appointments or providing some small financial assistance.
  • Look into adult care services, even if money is tight. You may be surprised by what comes up.

Tips for Making the Future of your Loved Ones Less Stressful

  • Try to plan ahead a little by looking for ways to keep your loved ones protected and safe in the event of your death or an unexpected injury making you unable to work.
  • Explore the life insurance policies available to you and think about whether or not they’d be beneficial for your specific needs. 
  • Discuss these options with your family and friends or a qualified professional life insurance agent you trust. 
  • Measure up your choices and make a decision based on what matters most to you in your unique situation. 

Life Insurance and the Sandwich Generation: Final Thoughts

Ultimately, finding the right policy to provide you with a potential life insurance payout when the unexpected occurs is a deeply personal thing. And whether you’re exploring life insurance for over 50s options, some critical illness cover, or otherwise, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all policy. 

But with some of the same time and care that you’ve put into looking after your loved ones, you can find the best policy for your needs and help to reduce some of the pressure in your household. In time, you may even find that you’re less concerned about the future and more secure in the knowledge that the people who matter to you will be well looked after.