Maria is 40 years old, has two girls, Kathy and Sophie, 8 and 5 years old and works as full time secretary in a Lawyer’s office. Recently her mother, Helen, 78 years old, was diagnosed with mild stage Alzheimer’s disease. Helen always was so independent and never wanted other people messing around.  She lives at a home nearby Maria.

Previously the diagnosis, Maria visited her mother 3—4 times a week, but now the situation has changed and need to be with her every day. Helen denies paid care workers, as she says that they will rob her. Maria has recently talked to her employer about this situation and asked to reduce working hours or days.

Maria also worries about the care of her two young girls, as now is a time that they need her. Maria’s spouse has also requested to reduce working hours in order to be with their girls.

Two days ago Maria has searched on the internet for information about Alzheimer’s disease and luckily found a Help line for carers of people with dementia

Case study of Maria gives an example about sandwich caring. A “sandwich” carer is a carer who juggles care for children, with or without disabilities, or a disabled partner and care of older relatives.

Sandwich generation parents are emotionally and financially overwhelmed by the pressures of raising children alongside caring for ageing relatives, new research from Carers UK in United Kingdom reveals – let’s take UK as an example of this issue.

The research showed that four in ten (42%) sandwich carers were struggling to cope as their careers, family finances and relationships suffered.

Three quarters of sandwich carers surveyed for the research had seen a loss of earnings and 95% said the pressure affected their ability to work. As a result, more than half (52%) said the cost of caring for older relatives was squeezing family finances – even more than the number struggling with childcare costs (50%).

The pressure of simultaneously shouldering responsibility for young and old is also putting huge strains on family life – with two-thirds of sandwich carers reporting damage to their marriages or personal relationships.

Across the UK there are an estimated 2.4 million ‘sandwich carers’ – as around a fifth of 45 to 60-year-olds are actively supporting parents while their children are still at home.  To tackle this growing challenge, Carers UK is calling for care services and workplaces to adapt urgently to the changing shape of family life.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “An ageing population means that caring for older or disabled loved ones is inevitable for all our families. Care services and workplaces must catch up with this reality of family life. Currently, families too often cannot access the support they need and are finding themselves squeezed between childcare, care for older parents and work – under pressure from all sides, and seeing their finances, careers and personal relationships suffer.”

Just over half of carers (54%) juggled work and caring for children and older relatives, but a third had to give up work to meet the demands of their dual caring role. Women were four times more likely than men to have given up work to care.

Of those who continued to work, one in five (22%) found their jobs suffered through stress, tiredness and lateness. One in eight (13 per cent) had reduced their hours and 7% had to take a less qualified job.

Carers UK is calling for urgent reform of social care funding, measures to stimulate a new generation of affordable care services, effective use of technology to help families juggle work with caring responsibilities and advice and information to ensure families can access support.

The full report – Sandwich Caring – can be downloaded here (in English).

Below you can find useful links that can help you in understanding caregiving and manage stress:

  • If you are visiting for first time this site, search in elderly care, the disease of interest and then read caring for section
  • Visit our help yourself page. Interesting advice is offered to help you manage stressexercise and stay activeand conciliate care and work
  • Choose the language of your country and search care and support services in your own country
  • See if there is an option of online support for your country and if there is don’t hesitate to email and arrange a video chat with national carer organisation.

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