This could be described as another variation of Ed Miliband’s ‘squeezed middle’, and it’s certainly a 21st century phenomenon which is going to grow rapidly in the next 20 years. Women are often choosing to have children later and are needing to work til they are older. What we forget is that in their 40s and 50s, with children still at home and a job to juggle, these women are often also caring for increasingly needy elderly parents and other relatives, who are themselves living longer. Welcome to the sandwich generation.
The reason the sandwich generation has become more than just a passing creation of the weekend paper feature writers’, is that it is a rapidly expanding demographic which faces multiple, complex challenges. In many ways this is an unforeseen consequence of post-war medical progress. We can choose (we hope) to have children later, and we will probably live longer. But in our 80s and beyond the majority of us will face a combination of physical and mental problems which will make us more reliant on others for our care. We will need more help from the NHS and from Social Services, and the younger generation will need to work longer to pay those bills, whilst also supporting their own children and parents.
I’m probably typical of this new demographic group. I’m 50ish, have 3 school age children, a husband who is often away from home with work, my own business and 3 relatives in their 80s who need varying and increasing amounts of my time and attention. Its not uncommon for me to go straight from school run to a doctor’s appointment with my mother, or to my aunt’s care home, while also taking work calls. I do feel squeezed and stretched and challenged. Its a slightly different version of ‘having it all’, and though there are many days when I feel glad to be able to juggle these responsibilities and be there for the people in my life who matter most, I can’t pretend there aren’t other days when I find it all overwhelming.
One of Age Space’s core objectives is to support those who find themselves facing these challenges. It can be an incredibly stressful and lonely life stage, and we often feel ill-equipped to make key decisions. Age Space aims to provide a community of others who know how that feels and who have stories and suggestions and advice to share. so – join the conversation today and tell us what kind of sandwich you’re feeling like today: Age Space forum.