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Racism and the “Sandwich Generation” – For Black women, caregiving is often part of an impossible juggling act

For Black women, generations of inequality in society and in the economy have created extra responsibilities at work and at home—with fewer opportunities for advancement or relief. And, when Black women hit a certain age, they often find themselves overwhelmed with caring for both their children and aging parents.

Of course, as caregivers many of us know these challenges all too well. So why focus specifically on the experiences of Black women caught up in this delicate juggling act? Because they’re disproportionately impacted: African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia and Black families lost one-half of their wealth during the housing crisis in the Great Recession. And, according to statistics from the Family Caregiver Alliance, African American family caregivers start younger, spend more hours caring for family, and are more likely to be “sandwiched” caring for children and aging parents at the same time. You can see why many Black women in their 30s, 40s and 50s are stretched thin.

So what can we all do to support Black women who are caregivers? According to UDW member Alane Quien, who at one point was raising three grandchildren while also caring for her mother, validating African American women’s experiences is key.

“When you hear us describing the stresses we face, don’t write it off as just complaining,” says Alane. “Caregiving is hard for all of us, but Black women caregivers are playing on a different field. Recognizing that and being sensitive to it can actually be really supportive.”