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I am part of the sandwich generation — those of us raising kids and also caring for our older parents. Sometimes I feel like a piece of salami in bread in a sandwich press, totally squished!
I know I’m not alone, though. Thanks to our ageing population, there are many of us juggling work and the competing needs of kids and older parents.
When it was first coined in the ‘80s, the term ‘sandwich generation’ referred to adults with kids under 18 and parents over 65.
It is estimated that over 1.5 million Australians in their 40s and 50s fall into this camp. But the sandwich generation appears to be less of a demographic and more of a phenomenon, one that can affect anyone whose parents and children both need support at the same time.
For example, it includes older adults who provide regular childcare to their grandchildren so their kids can work, while also supporting their own parents. Parents who might be well into their 80s or 90s.
The sandwich ‘generation’ is also growing with our ageing population. By 2066, it is projected that Australians aged over 65 will make up between 21% and 23% of the total population. Right now, this sits at 16%.
Why the sandwich generation needs support
They are time poor, often stressed and overworked, trying to balance work pressures with the day-to-day needs of their family and older parents. Parents who increasingly require more support as they age and experience difficulties.
But the thing about being someone who takes care of everyone else, without a break or much support, is that they don’t take care of themselves very well, if at all. The toll on their mental health by being a multi-generational carer is therefore significant.
As a matter of fact, a Carers Australia survey found that carers are 2.5 times more likely to have lower wellbeing than the average Australian. What’s more, wellbeing is also poorest amongst carers aged 45 to 54. A recent American study also found our ‘sandwiched group’ experiences more caregiving-related, financial and emotional difficulties as well as ‘role overload’.
Let’s also remember that carer burnout is very real, especially when one is caring for more than one person.
5 ways booking support on on Mable can help
An independent support worker can step in to help when you can’t. They can take your parents to the doctor’s appointment or shopping when you have to work or your child is sick, for instance. They can also help out around the house with cleaning and give your parents social support.
Putting regular support in place for your older parents, say a day a week, is also a great strategy for managing your ongoing workload. It isn’t avoiding your responsibilities, it’s balancing them in a way that means you’ll be able to better juggle all the different balls.
Easing the guilt
Many people who belong to the sandwich generation may feel guilty. We fret that we aren’t being the parents, workers or supportive kids we strive to be, that there aren’t enough hours in the day to be everything to everybody all the time.
Feeling like you are not doing enough because you have too much to do is a horrible feeling. By booking support through Mable, you’re ensuring the wellbeing of the person who needs it, as well as your own.
To help when plans change
Life happens to all of us. Plans change, work demands shift, we all get sick from time to time. You never know when you might need last minute support. When this happens, you can book support in as little as 4 hours through Mable Last Minute.
It could be the difference between having to reschedule a hard-to-get specialist appointment or your parents still making it without you, but with the assistance of a support worker.
Relationships become strained when people feel stressed and overwhelmed. When a child is always visiting a parent because there are ‘things that need doing’, it becomes less about nurturing and more about practicalities.
Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to just drop in for a cup of tea and a chat, because the ‘task’ you would usually do has been taken care of by a support worker who visited earlier in the week.
Being a parent or a grandparent and caring for older parents is taxing. Everyone needs a break from time to time.
Respite care in the form of a support worker taking over some of the caregiving, allows you to recover from the stresses of being a sandwiched caregiver.
Sign up on Mable and book support workers today.