Are you a part of the sandwich generation?
This term describes people who are responsible for adult children and elderly parents, finding themselves sandwiched between the two.
These responsibilities could be financial or relating to your time.
In our experience, it’s usually a mix of the two; financial support for grown up children who are struggling with the cost of living and help in the form of time for elderly parents who need increasing support with their care needs.
It’s a big time commitment too, with one in five members of the sandwich generation spending 20 hours or more each week providing care to elderly relatives.
There’s an awful lot of people in the UK who find themselves in this challenging position.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed an estimated 1.3 million people carrying this double burden as part of the sandwich generation.
The majority of people finding themselves in this position are women, making up 62% of the sandwich generation. Their average age is about 45 years old.
As a result of being sandwiched people children and parents, members of this generation are more likely to be dissatisfied with their lot in life. The ONS say that members of the sandwich generation are more likely to be experiencing the symptoms of poor mental health and also more likely to be struggling financially.
Commenting on the latest statistics, Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva said:
“As life expectancy increases and more women have children later in life, we can expect the pressures on the “sandwich generation” to grow.
“Today’s evidence of this generation’s mid-life stress echoes previous insights that suggest our anxiety peaks and our happiness slumps as we progress through our 40s and 50s.”
If you find yourself stressed as a member of the sandwich generation, there are a few things you can do which could really help.
Often, it helps to talk to others. Reach out to your support network of family and friends to share your concerns; they are likely to be able to offer help or advice.
For members of the sandwich generation who shoulder the sole burden of caring for elderly parents, find ways to spread this responsibility, asking siblings or care workers for support as needed.
It’s important to take breaks from caring duties too, so look for respite care opportunities for your parents and bring in additional support to allow you to take time off as needed.
From a financial perspective, make sure that providing financial support to children and parents isn’t derailing your own financial plans.
It’s useful to remember the airline safety advice of putting on your oxygen mask first.
If you’re not taking good care of your health and personal finances, then you are in a weaker position to take care of the wellbeing of your grown up children and elderly parents.