NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The so-called "sandwich generation" has a lot on its plate these days, and it's figuring out how to handle the financial side of the equation that's most likely to be causing indigestion.
The term is used to describe middle-aged Americans who are supporting both children and parents financially -- a trend affecting more and more people as the giant baby boomer generation settles into old age.
"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)," says a Pew Foundation study last year on the sandwich demographic. "And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child."
A year earlier, those figures were only 45% and 12%, respectively.
It's critical that sandwich generation members not lose sight of their own financial goals even as they support their families.
"Many Americans find themselves having to keep multiple generations afloat, often at the expense of their own long-term security," says Eleanor Blayney, a consumer advocate for the CFP Board, a Washington, D.C.-based professional standards board for the financial planning industry. "The question for many middle-aged Americans becomes: How can I say 'yes' to my own financial needs and goals when it is impossible to say 'no' to needy family members?"