Sandwich Carers ? Caring For Both A Parent & A Child : Over Stretched?

**_Overstretched " Sandwich carers " trying to help parents and children.

An exhausted, overstretched generation of carers, are in need of emotional support themselves, say researchers.**
( What an " Unexpected " surprise ??? )_**


A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says more than a quarter of such “sandwich carers” are suffering from depression or stress.

“Sandwich carers” look after their elderly parents and their children.

There are 1.3 million people in the UK with such multi-generational caring responsibilities, say researchers, with many feeling ignored and undervalued.

The ONS says the numbers in this “sandwich” generation, often in their 40s and 50s, are being increased by a combination of longer life expectancy and women tending to have children later in life.

But the report warns of the hidden pressures being carried by these mid-life carers - with warnings that they can be worn down emotionally, physically and financially.

The majority of carers in this “sandwich generation” are women - and almost half of these women feel that they cannot work as many hours as they would like.

One in three sandwich carers say that financially they are “just about getting by”.

For those with more than 20 hours per week of caring, the ONS says a third are experiencing some kind of mental health problems, which might be stretched out over many years.

They risk becoming isolated, running out of money and being constantly under pressure - while trying to juggle between responsibilities of care, work and their own relationships.

What’s it like ?

Sarah, a 52-year-old mother of five children, lives in London, where she looks after her mother-in-law, who has dementia.

The work of carers is “completely undervalued,” she says.

In fact, she says it makes her angry when in questionnaires carers are categorised as “not working”, when they never stop working, often to the detriment of their own health.

Even though this affects a “massive number of people”, Sarah says much of this huge and unrelenting responsibility goes by without being recognised.

“There is no spare time at all and you can get very tired,” she says.

Sarah says she has a good network of support around her, but there is still a residual sense of guilt about whether she is spending enough time with her children or her mother-in-law, as she tries to stretch herself across helping all of them.

‘Lose touch with friends’

The people who are often most neglected are the carers themselves, and she says it would be easy for someone to get “unwell”.

“You can lose touch with friends, when it’s hard to see people,” she says.

Going out together as a family becomes difficult and holidays become limited, at a time in life when people might be expecting to enjoy some travelling.

Sarah says it is important to resist the “feeling of horizons being limited”.

“You could easily feel that your life is getting narrower.”

Her mother-in-law had previously lived alone in Dorset, and Sarah says that created another set of pressures, needing hours of travel, sometimes at short notice.

But she says it is worth it and feels that it is the right thing to do - but Sarah says that there needs to be much more openness about the stress and struggles facing so many people in her generation.
‘So exhausted’

Catherine, aged 61, living in Cheshire, helps her 89-year-old mother at the same time as caring for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

The emotions can be a “roller coaster”, she says, with some very low dips, such as if there are problems with navigating the care system.

A big practical problem, she says, is the shortage of reliable carers and the difficulties created when there are interruptions and gaps in staff available.

Catherine says she has sometimes spent a fortnight as the sole carer, through nights and days.

“I couldn’t speak in full sentences, I was so exhausted,” she said.

She says that other people are not “heartless”, but they fail to see the extent to which carers can be trapped and unable even to get out of their house.

Even simple things like going for a walk have to be planned, Catherine says.

Carers find their own release from stress, she says, and in her own case she says that she “knits, knits, knits”, as a hobby.

“Good friendships” have been very important to her, she says, otherwise people can become very isolated and feel all the weight on their shoulders.

But she warns that carers can sometimes feel excluded and neglected by neighbours who might be “afraid of saying the wrong thing”.

She says that caring has its own lessons - and she has learned to “live in the moment” and enjoy what she can.

“How many other people get pleasure from getting out to the supermarket?” says Catherine.

‘Time-poor and stressed’

This is a growing problem for a “time-poor and stressed” generation, says Helen Walker, chief executive of the Carers UK charity.

As well putting pressure on health and wellbeing, it is also tough on those balancing being a carer with their own jobs.

The charity estimates that about two million people have left work as a result, with consequences for their finances and careers.

Both Sarah and Catherine spoke of the difficulties in having to negotiate the care and health support system for their relatives, and Carers UK says getting the right care for the elderly is often tougher than getting childcare.

“With the social care system under extreme pressure, additional stress is being placed on families who are trying to juggle children, work and older relatives,” says Ms Walker.

Yet another Report of the Sybil Fawlty variety … stating the bleeding obvious ???

Even our new c.e.o. gets a mention.

So what … what action is to be taken ?

Need a guess … four letters … a N , an O , a N and an ?

Sandwich carers … aren’t MOST family / kinship carers suffering from being a carer … perhaps the next article / report will feature carers well into their eighties / child carers under 10 ( Caring both for a parent and a fellow sibling ) / lone carers … who knows ?

I was once caring for 5 all at once, brain damaged son and four elderly disabled parents, all within 6 miles. Horrendous. My husband died of a massive heart attack, and I had a life changing operation.
Another of the unfarinesses of CA is the fact that however many you are caring for, you only get one lot. Each GP focusses on their patient, never mind the other four. SSD even did separate carers assessments, focussing on one client, but I was just one person!

Yep … our Lord Kitch already has a note of that :

Why not be really patriotic and care for 2 or 3 ?

Sorry we cannot afford to provide any extra rations. ( As in Carers Allowance. )

If more than one of you is needed to care for a caree , sorry , only one Carers Allowance ration allowed.

The one-CA despite however many carees is in direct contrast to the ‘pay per child’ policy of the government! The state PAYS people to have children …yet refuses to pay carers to look after multiple carees.

Illogical - and shameful.

Thanks for posting, as a sandwich carer I massively relate to this. I thank the forum for saving me from a nervous breakdown when I was at my lowest ebb. Emotionally things were pretty awful trying to balance the needs of 2 unwell parents and 2 very small children.

The part about money really resonates. My Mum and Dad were able to spend their 40s and 50s working hard and saving for good pensions. Not an option for me as I am not able to work enough as I can’t juggle any more hours with all of my responsibilities. There are some fantastic opportunities at work at the moment, but I can’t consider them as I can’t take on anything else. I certainly won’t be retiring in my 60s as they did. I am also freelance as then when I have to take time off to deal with illness or a crisis I am at least doing it on my own time and am not feeling bad for letting my employer down. Which feels mentally better to me, if not financially better.

However, I also totally agree that most of this is also applicable to ALL carers.

Your welcome . Sally.

My " Unofficial " job is to keep ALL forum readers fully informed of ALL matters relating to CarerLand … having been press ganged by myself … and subtle hints dropped over the years from a fellow member of CarerWatch … THE original " Trawler " … eh , Pet ?

Trouble is , extremely difficult to find anything positive out there … and it’s getting worse !

HOUSING / FOODBANK threads a prime example … the UNIVERSAL CREDIT thread a close third.

Foodbanks … even being supplied by prisoners and the army !

CUK press releases ?

NOTHING on the current BIG 2 !

There are some fantastic opportunities at work at the moment, but I can’t consider them as I can’t take on anything else. "

Sally, are you sure you shouldn’t prioritise taking those opportunities, and ‘outsourcing’ care for your parents more? Freelancing is SO precarious, that isn’t it worth grabbing what is on offer?? Sorry I know that sounds ‘easy’ when it isn’t, but I’m wondering whether it could focus you on how your life is passing you by, in being a carer…

At a minimum of £ 15 per hour to replace one’s self as a carer is a huge barrier in trying to find an escape route.

( Perhaps 2 and a bit hours working to pay for 1 hour’s worth of external caring ? )

Always bearing in mind that £ 120 limit if also claiming Carers Allowance ?

Both together and that carer is STILL BELOW THE OFFICIAL POVERTY LINE !!!

Even then , how many carers would be happy to replace themselves with an unknown paid care worker ?

Effect on their caree / carees ?

Difficult for anyone in that position … there is more than one " Correct " answer.

Bless you Jenny for your interest, especially as I can thank you and the other regulars for getting me back to work in the first place. I guess I have “outsourced” all I can/want to at this point. Dad is in a care home now (time not spent caring, but a lot of time been spent on CHC in the past year!). Mum is living at home and has help in, but I want to spend time with her whilst she still has the ability to enjoy it. It also comes down to child care as well, I am lucky enough that we can manage me just working school hours so the kids can come home after school and I can visit Mum, deal with CHC etc.