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Unlocking the Secrets of Home Care in the Sandwich Generation

Cyclical may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about home care, and running your home care agency. However, with our 90+ years of experience in the industry, we have come to notice a pattern that home care agencies, clients, and families follow. A big part of this cycle is because of something deemed the sandwich generation. This generation (adults between 35 and 55) generally still has children and aging parents. The outcomes of this sandwich generation have a direct impact on home care volume/revenue and referrals. This article will explain what these impacts are, how the cycles work, and what you can do about them to support your clients.

Understanding the Sandwich Generation

The “sandwich generation” refers to adults aged between 35 and 55 who find themselves caring for both their children and their aging parents. This tends to happen as there is an increasing trend upwards of the age at which people have kids. 

Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.

Pew Research

This puts a large strain financially and emotionally on this generation. But how does it impact home care?

The cycle of home care completely syncs with kids’ school schedules, more specifically the breaks from school. While the kids are off school, a parent focuses entirely on the kids, especially if they also play a sport. During school breaks, there is an increased chance that these families also visit or connect with their aging loved ones. They then get to see first-hand how “bad” things have become since they last visited.  

As a result, the sandwiches decide they should start seeking care for their parents, but rarely have the time to do it until their kids are back in school. Here is a more in-depth explanation:

The Home Care Cycle

To understand the cyclical nature of home care demand, we need to consider the annual rhythm of life for this “sandwich generation.” We’ll break this cycle down into key parts of the year, focusing on how school schedules, family dynamics, and seasonal factors influence the demand for home care services:

May to August: The “Summer Slowdown”
  • Kids are off school, and new referrals tend to slow down.
  • High school and college-age kids may assist with caring.
  • School system employees, like teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, can provide care as well
September to October: “Back to School Boost”
  • Kids are back in school, and referrals increase
  • During this time, families are busy so when a loved one suddenly needs care, they are more interested in investing in care (from you!) to help juggle the family dynamics.
November to December: “Holiday Realization”
  • Holidays and winter break are focused on kids and referrals slow down again.
  • Many seniors want to stay independent for the holidays.
  • They tend to keep telling their adult children they are “fine”.  When families come to visit, they often realize that Mom and/or Dad are not in fact “fine” and they start looking for care. 
January to March: “Winter Influx”
  • Kids are back in school, and referrals increase. especially with flu season and the fact that more people stay indoors and get less Vitamin D in the winter.
  • Gradual declines become more apparent after holiday visits.
  • Seniors are less likely to participate in activities that require them to go out into inclement weather so they get more lonely during this time as well.
April to May: “Spring Lull”
  • Referrals tend to slow down as the weather warms.
  • Families may assume they can handle caring for their parents themselves, “just for the summer”
  • Seniors and families start engaging in more outdoor activities, lifting spirits

Key Considerations for Home Care Agencies

Types of Referrals
  • Gradual Health Decline:
    • Recognize that many referrals occur due to the gradual, progressive decline in health among seniors. These referrals may be the most challenging to obtain but are often the most critical to address. Be prepared to provide long-term care solutions.
    • Develop educational materials and resources for the “sandwich generation” on recognizing the signs of gradual health decline, emphasizing the importance of early intervention.
  • Event-Driven Situations:
    • Understand that most referrals result from specific events, such as falls, hospitalizations, or cognitive decline, which suddenly make it apparent that a loved one needs assistance. Tailor your agency’s response to handle such acute situations efficiently.
    • Develop a rapid-response system that can accommodate emergency referrals and provide the necessary support and care during crises.
Aligning Services
  • Seasonal Marketing Campaigns:
    • Implement seasonal marketing campaigns that correspond with the ebb and flow of home care demand. Design promotions and offers that address the specific needs of the “sandwich generation” during different times of the year.
    • Utilize digital marketing and social media to target your audience effectively, providing them with the right solutions when they need them most. 
    • Examples include marketing around “I’m Fine” during the Holiday season, and providing support during the summer months when they take on care roles.
  • Service Flexibility:
    • Ensure your agency can adapt to changing demands. Consider offering flexible care plans that can be adjusted based on the family’s needs, whether they require full-time assistance during school breaks or part-time support when kids are in school.
  • Community Outreach:
    • Engage in community outreach and partnerships with schools, senior centers, and healthcare facilities. This can help you connect with potential clients during peak referral seasons and educate the community about your services.
    • Offer free workshops, seminars, or support groups to empower families in caring for their loved ones and showcase your expertise.
Understanding the Sandwich Generation
  • Demographic Insights:
    • Dive deep into demographic data to understand the specific characteristics and needs of the “sandwich generation” in your area. This information can guide your marketing strategies and service offerings.
  • Personalized Care Plans:
    • Develop care plans that cater to the unique challenges faced by the “sandwich generation.” Consider offering services that provide temporary relief for caregivers, mental health support, and assistance with navigating complex healthcare systems.
    • Ensure your staff is trained to offer emotional support and guidance to family caregivers who may be overwhelmed by their dual responsibilities.
  • Dive deep into demographic data to understand the specific characteristics and needs of the “sandwich generation” in your area. This information can guide your marketing strategies and service offerings.
Educating Clients
  • Symptom Awareness:
    • Create informative content that educates clients on recognizing the early signs of health decline in their loved ones. Offer checklists or guides that help families identify when to seek professional help.
    • Share case studies and real-life stories of families who benefited from timely intervention to underscore the importance of early detection.
  • Benefits of Home Care:
    • Produce content highlighting the advantages of home care over institutional care options. Explain the personalized and compassionate approach that home care agencies provide, emphasizing the comfort and safety of seniors in their own homes.
    • Share testimonials and success stories that showcase the positive impact of home care on the lives of seniors and their families.


Understanding the cyclical nature of home care is so important for home care agencies looking to serve the “sandwich generation.” By recognizing the annual rhythm of your target market, you can adapt your services, marketing strategies, and business operations to meet their changing needs. Stay attuned to the ebb and flow of home care demand, and your agency will be better positioned to provide exceptional care and support to those who need it most. As the “sandwich generation” faces the challenges of caring for their children and aging parents, your agency can be the reliable partner offering the support and expertise they need throughout the year.

If you want to read more about statistics regarding the sandwhich generation, read more here!

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