HomeRetirementThe 'generational sandwich' crisis creeping up on us

The ‘generational sandwich’ crisis creeping up on us

The CEO of a health tech company is warning that Australia is on the brink of a healthcare crisis, and that Australian parents are increasingly at risk of being caught in a ‘generational sandwich’.

This refers to parents caught between caring for their children while also managing the health of their ageing parents.

Mark Woodland, CEO of healthcare start-up Kismet, says the squeeze is caused by Australians having kids at a later age. Aussies also have a longer life expectancy, but living longer can come with its own health issues, for which assistance may be required.

The result is a cohort of parents juggling the needs of family members from generations on either side. “Australians are having kids later in life so they’re more likely to find themselves caring for elderly parents and their young family at the same time,” he says.

The strain this places on families is not just emotional and financial. Stretching resources between both generations can manifest as “guilt they feel for not being able to be there for everyone”.

In short, Mr Woodland says: “Families will max out their care capacity.” 

Excessive stress associated with having to care for both parents and kids can potentially then lead to health issues for the ‘meat’ in that generational sandwich.

What can be done to ease the generational sandwich burden?

Mr Woodland says the first step is for Australian governments to acknowledge an impending exigency. They need to start making long-term investments to solve long-term problems.

The crisis point is potentially only a decade away, Mr Woodland says. With around 1.5 million Australians in the generational sandwich, the problem will reach critical proportions in 10 years.

Mr Woodland believes that Kismet can provide part of the answer to the issues faced by parents caught in the middle. Kismet aims to provide greater accessibility to disability and healthcare services through its tech platform, leveraging health insurance benefits. 

But this forms only a small part of a solution that requires far greater government input, he believes. He said while private enterprise is crucial to the solution, governments need to remove red tape and provide appropriate plans.

Six pillars of solution

These plans would need to tackle several major facets, including:

  • Cost of living: Australians are paying more healthcare costs, including medical treatments, equipment, medications, and specialised care, Mr Woodland says. “Having a clear plan can prevent unexpected costs and provide a roadmap for future care.”
  • Ageing population: Mr Woodland says this long-term crisis requires a coordinated and multi-faceted approach involving governments and the private sector. 
  • Infrastructure: Adapting the home environment for ageing parents, including accessibility modifications, should at least be a consideration for those caught in the generational sandwich. While presenting practical and emotional challenges it would likely have less of a financial impact than an aged care facility.
  • Carers leave: Mr Woodland believes all parties need to reframe their mindsets when considering the use of carers leave. Having access to carers leave should not have to be a life or death situation, he said. “It’s dedicated leave to help ease the financial strain on employees who may otherwise need to take unpaid time off to spend time with their ageing parents.”
  • Improved tech administration: Intelligent use of technology to remove the emotional pain caused by navigating healthcare would be welcomed all round. This would not only allow people more time to spend with their families, but do so under less stress.

What can we do about our own generational sandwich?

Mr Woodland’s warnings are directed at least in part at governments, and provide food for thought for ‘generational sandwich’ Australians. If you are an over-50 Aussie with young kids and ageing parents, planning for the years ahead may be prudent. Or if your children are moving into that stage, a chat with them might also prevent future stress.

Are you part of a ‘generational sandwich’ family? Do you think the government needs to do more to assist such families? Let us know via the comments section below. 

Also read: What you really think of the Aged Care Taskforce report

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. Andrew,what a well written story.
    It is exactly what’s happening even now in my family.
    It is so traumatic.
    This is the sort of problem the Govt needs to provide leadership on.
    They seem to be paralysed in their single dimension view of overseas issues whilst surely the emphasis should include providing the answers to the matters you have written about.
    They are fixated with care in the home but that will only work up to a point.
    Dementia doesn’t stand still and in Nursing home care is necessary as the disease progresses.
    Thankyou for the article

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -


- Advertisment -

Log In

Forgot password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.