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Sandwich carers and printing broccoli

In her latest News Space blog, Age Space’s Annabel James looks at news and views about elderly care.

Those of us who provide the filling in the “Sandwich Generation” have been much in the news this week.

Difficult decisions for Sandwich Carers

Age UK has shone the spotlight on what is happening to many women across the country, telling the stories of four particular women who have had to make difficult decisions about working and caring for loved ones, putting their own lives and interests on hold.

  • There are 1.25 million sandwich carers in the UK. These are people caring for an older relative as well as bringing up a family. 68% (850,743) are women.
  • Sandwich carers’ ages range from 20s to 60s, but those aged 35-44 are the most likely to be carers with 35% being in this age group.
  • 73% of sandwich carers provide under 10 hours of caring a week but 7% provide over 35 hours per week – that’s 88,391 sandwich carers doing over 35 hours each week.
  • The oldest sandwich carers (55-64) provide the longest hours with 29% of them providing over 20 hours of caring a week.
  • In total 78% of sandwich carers are in paid work and 49% of those carers providing over 35 hours are still in paid work.

You can read the individual stories in the Breaking Point report.

And, of course, this is why I founded Age Space. If you haven’t already, please do check out our website and friendly forum, chock-full of info and support for people like us!

The State of Ageing

Meanwhile another landmark report on the state of ageing in Britain shows that a significant proportion of the population is at risk of suffering poverty, ill-health and hardship in later life.

In The State of Ageing in 2019 the Centre for Ageing Better warns of substantial inequalities in health, work and housing for people in their 50s and 60s.

Today’s least well-off over 50s face far greater challenges than wealthier peers and are likely to die younger, become sicker earlier and fall out of work due to ill-health.
There are calls for a radical rethink from Government, businesses and charities to ensure the next generation of older people can experience a good quality of life as they age and make the most of the opportunities presented by longer lives.Well worth reading and you can find a copy here.

Looking ahead with lasers

Good news. Lasers should become the principal method in the UK for treating patients with the debilitating eye condition glaucoma. That is the stark conclusion of a three-year study published in this, World Glaucoma Week.

The report, which appears in the Lancet, says the laser technique – known as selective laser trabeculoplasty or SLT – should replace the prescribing of eye drops, the current favoured way to treat glaucoma. The study has revealed that SLT is not only more effective and safer, but should also save the NHS £1.5m a year in tackling the condition.

Using a laser for a one-off treatment also relieves patients from the tyranny of daily drops, which they have to take for the rest of their lives, and which can also produce side-effects. Read more here

When the cash runs out

This is something that leaves us fuming. As more and more banks and cash machines disappear fr0m small towns and villages, older people, those on lower incomes and small independent businesses will suffer, says the head of the City watchdog.

Charles Randell, chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), warned that banks left devastation in their wake when they abandoned the high street.

His intervention suggests that the watchdog could step in after avoiding the problem for years. Let’s hope so.

And finally…

Feeling a bit peckish? Fire up the printer!

A new project creating 3D-printed food for elderly care home residents aims to improve residents’ nutrition and overall health by making puréed meals look like the real thing.
The idea is to create, for example, a piece of broccoli, a chicken leg, or a Danish pastry so that it looks as identical to the normal food as possible. But the consistency will be something like a loose pannacotta.
The new technique will be tested at two elderly care homes in Sweden and at a company that provides food for hospitals.


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