Introducing the ‘sandwich generation’
More than 1.3 million adults in the UK are now part of what’s known as the ‘sandwich generation’ and learning to cope with a complex set of pressures on their time and money.
Put simply, you’re in the sandwich generation if you’re faced with the task of caring for elderly parents alongside your own children.
The rise of the sandwich generation is a result of two key factors; first, increases in life expectancy mean more people are living long into their 80s and 90s, while societal shifts and economic pressures have delayed adulthood for the generation below.
For people in their 40s, 50s and 60s this often means you’re sandwiched by the generation above and below who rely on you for emotional, practical and financial support.
And that’s in addition to juggling work and the many other aspects of your own life!
Stepping up as family carers
Increasing life expectancy is a wonderful thing – many grandparents are now living well into their 80s and 90s and have the opportunity to see their families grow through several generations.
But as your parents grow older and health and independence slowly erodes, many are called to step into the role of family carer to help cope.
Navigating downsizing, illness like Alzheimer’s, pensions, inheritance tax and more can be daunting. Happily, as the sandwich generation grows, so too do resources to help them – charities like Carers UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK all provide information and advice.
Adult children back at home
The pandemic has exacerbated this situation. Increased unemployment, student debt, the gig economy, stagnating wages, inflation, the cost of living, a competitive job market and expensive housing market all combine to make starting out as an adult more expensive than ever before.
For many parents, this means adult children are returning to the family home after higher education or staying much later – in the UK, a quarter of adults aged 20 to 34 are still living at home.
And while having your children at home can be a wonderful experience, the increased financial demands on your household can be difficult, especially for anyone making the transition to retirement.
Members of the sandwich generation face a unique set of challenges trying to juggle the different members of their family who need their care, advice, and support.
But it’s not all bad – after all, the filling is the best bit of any sandwich – and many people relish being so actively involved in the lives of those they care about most.
So tell us – are you a member of the sandwich generation? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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