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The Sandwich Generation

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Posted on 12th March 2015.

Millions of Brits are struggling to care for both elderly parents and grandchildren in a growing number of four generation families. An aging population means that a massive 2.4 million UK adults are now part of four generation families, fuelling a rapidly growing ‘sandwich generation’ – the name given to them as they are caught between younger and older family members, and unable to spread their time effectively.

In a recent Helping Hands survey, 65% of sandwich generation Brits are struggling to balance the care needs of both the oldest and youngest generations of their family. Nearly two in three have already retired and say they feel they are too busy caring for others, with 35% admitting they feel overwhelmed by the pressures they face.

Sandwich family
On average, grandparents with parents still alive were spending two and a half days a week helping out with childcare or assisting their elderly parents with daily needs such as attending hospital appointments, paying bills, and completing shopping tasks. One in three were also afraid to travel in case either their parents or grandchildren needed them.

Lindsey Edgehill, Sales and Marketing Director at Helping Hands says; “Instead of enjoying the so-called ‘best years of your life’, people approaching retirement are under more pressure than ever. We are seeing an increasing number of people in their 50s and 60s coming to us to find out more about Live-in Care for their elderly parents because the pressure is simply becoming too much.
25% of people we talked to in our research identified guilt as the main reason for not considering alternative care options, but the reality is that taking all of the responsibility on yourself is not always the best option for you or your loved ones.”

Whilst multi-generational, multi-responsibility care provision can be rewarding, and many families wanting to care for loved ones; the downsides are all too evident. Women are likely to give up work in order to cope, and more likely to suffer anxiety and depression as they give their lives over to caring. Research has also shown that women are four times more likely to provide care for over 50 hours a week in comparison to men, and therefore more likely to reach breaking point.

The trends of increasing life spans and having children at an older age have contributed to the sandwich generation phenomenon, therefore extra care for your loved ones can effectively relieve stress levels for sandwich generations, whilst providing peace of mind that your loved ones are in the best possible hands.

Sally Tomkotowicz