The Sandwich Generation: Caring for parents & supporting children

In the past couple of weeks, in-between teaching our son to drive, my husband has been to the hospital more than once with his mother.  The latest being when she’d fallen at home. Although nothing seemed broken the lovely paramedics thought she ought to go hospital, just in case. Before she left the hospital they wanted to know, who was around to care for her? 

So who steps up?

Right now, we are the sandwich generation. Between elderly parents and dependent children and grandchildren the pressures of caring are falling hardest on middle-aged women.  Although men and women can end up in this role 1 in 4 ‘baby-boomer’ women are now carers. Women who are at the peak of their careers. Particularly those in their 40s-60s are more likely to give up work or reduce their working hours to care.

According to Carers UK’s research the number of middle-aged (50-64) female carers has risen by 13%, to 1.2 million, in the last ten years.  

If this isn’t you, I expect you know someone who is caring for a family member.

Sandwiched between older parents, and grown up children who either still live at home or are juggling high household bills and childcare costs. Many women are caring for parents, supporting older children and caring for grandchildren.

A large number of my friends have childcare duties. They want to help, but it’s hard work when you’re not as young and energetic as you were. (Average nursery costs are £125 per week, a chunk out of the weekly wage and that’s only for one child).  Grandparents trying to help cut costs, by looking after toddlers while their parents are at work. Or picking up school age children until their parents get home.

But all of this caring comes at more than a monetary cost. Looking after family members can have an impact on mental health. Tending to neglect their own wellbeing, anxiety and depression can creep in as the carer becomes stressed and tired under all the responsibility.

And if the carer becomes ill what happens to the cared for?

I have no solution in this post and the only consolation is to know that you’re not alone and there are organisations out there that can give practical support, provide some financial help and a listening ear.

CarersUk can advise on everything from finance to equipment, their website has lots of in-depth information, guides, factsheets and an online forum.  Although their latest report (July 2019) has some scary statistics on the growth of unpaid caring in the UK.

The important thing in all of this is to talk to someone. You can talk to and get advice from your GP. Also some area’s have a local carer’s centre where you can speak to someone in confidence about how you are coping.

Learning to ask for and accept help is the first big step.  Help may not be in the way of taking over care. It could be other tasks or chores which free up time for you to take a break. We all need to know this as it looks like the sandwich generation are going to be stuck in the middle for some time yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • I hadn’t thought about this, but I should have. It’s a very real issue and there’s usually one in each family that seems to step up and take the load. I suspect there will be others who read this today who are sitting there nodding too. Visiting from #MLSTL

  • Hello Lorraine. It seems we’re on the same train of thought this week. I also posted about caregivers. My mother is 81 and my mother-in-law is 92. Both live alone and neither requires full-time care, but both are starting to need more support from family. Though our children are grown, both my husband and I are working full-time, and it can get challenging. I can just imagine what it must be like for someone caring full-time for aging or ill family members while still raising children–and trying to work. Bless them! #MLSTL

  • I was the major caregiver for my father in his last few of years of life. he had cancer, and it was exhausting. I often felt alone. I also did not feel up to the job of being his nurse since I have no training. Still, I did the best I could and feel at peace knowing that I was able to care for him which kept him out of a nursing home. Good luck to you!

    • Michele knowing you did the best for your father, even though it must have been overwhelming at times, must have helped with your grief at that sad time.x

  • We lived with my in-laws for 11 years. Although they lived in Australia for more than 60 years they never really mastered the language and relied on their son, my husband to do many things for them. When my father-in-law died at 89, my MIL became ill and we were forced to send her to aged care, where she has surprisingly thrived and found a new lease on life. She is now 93 and at 71 my husband is still looking out for his mum and we visit several times a week. I feel it is time for him to start living his life and I can understand that some people can begin to resent the responsibility. I’m now also involved by choice looking after my grandsons one day per week. They do bring me such joy but yes, I wonder how we managed to become the Sandwich Generation? Thanks for sharing such an important topic at #MLSTL.

  • It’s definitely an issue for our generation. I don’t think our kids will be as obligated to care for us – they seem better at saying “no” and utilizing support networks. My daughter told me (tongue in cheek) that she might even pay someone to visit me in the old folks home because I won’t know the difference by then! There was certainly no mention from either of my kids that they’ll be living anywhere near me in my old age – so I feel like we could be the last of the sandwiches.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Leanne it’s shocking but I think you could be right, our boys laugh & say they’re putting us in a home.

  • Very interesting and all you say is true Lorraine! My MIL lives on her own in an isolated spot, doesn’t drive and can’t walk too far and we live over 5hours drive away. But that’s the way she wants to do it and until she changes her mind or asks for help we are beholden to keep checking on her and being there when she needs us. #mlstl

    • Debbie they can be so stubborn. My MIL keeps saying she wants to move to sheltered accommodation and when you suggest going to see some she says I’m not moving anywhere, you can’t win.