The Strain of Caring for Both Children & Older Relatives
It is not uncommon nowadays for parents to find themselves in a situation where they are caring not only for their own children, but who also have parents or older relatives who rely on them for care and support. Not only can this apply a huge amount of strain, leaving parents struggling to prioritise their time, but it also having a direct impact on aspects such as mental health.
The latest figure from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have drawn attention to the true pressures of being a ‘sandwich carer’. Their insights have highlighted the significant effect that this much responsibility can have on aspects such as mental wellbeing, finances and life satisfaction.
Here are some of the statistics released by the ONS about “sandwich carers”
- They are most often women (62%)
- 27% suffer from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety
- If they are providing more than 20 hours of care per week, it then becomes one in three (33%) who suffer from mental health issues
- More than 1.3 million people in the UK are now sandwich carers
- One in three felt they were “just about getting by” financially
- Only “17%” felt that they were living comfortably
- 69% are balancing care with paid work
- 41% wanted to work more
Background to the Situation
These alarming statistics are likely to leave many wondering how we have got to the point where this is the norm. In short – it is largely down to the ageing population. We are living longer, which means that many people see their parents live to a much greater age than we would have seen twenty years ago. What’s more, with a much longer lifespan, people are having children a lot later in life than they would have historically – being older parents.
This situation is one which is unlikely to change anytime soon – meaning that many more people are likely to find themselves in this very same situation. The social care system is also feeling the same pressures – they simply cannot deliver care to the number of people who now require it. Unfortunately, in situations where supply falls short of demand, additional stress ie being placed onto families and loved ones to care for relatives. This is regardless of the other pressures which may be going on in their life through from juggling childcare to holding down paid employment.
Many are hoping to see more ambitious proposals for the funding of future social care to better support older people – allowing those individuals who fall into the generation of sandwich carers to live a better quality of live. In the meantime, families who are undergoing mounting pressure should consider other support available from the likes of residential care homes who can offer both long term residential and nursing care as well as short term respite care.