The Sandwich Generation – who are they and what are their current challenges?

Have you heard of the sandwich generation?

This is a term used to describe people who are looking after young children and caring for elderly parents or even supporting with caring responsibilities for grandparents. As we live longer and have children later, the population has a group of people who are literally stuck in the middle of two types of caring, but placing demands on their time and their financial resources, this group is also struggling to remain in the workplace as they are having to be in multiple places with significant additional responsibilities. This group also remains trapped in this for longer with more young people living at home longer, in 1977 only 25% of 18-24-year-olds living with their parents, in 2021, that had increased to 34%.

The phrase Sandwich Generation was coined in 1981 and we are now seeing a new term ‘ The Double Decker Sandwiches’. These are people in their 60s who are looking after grandchildren, as their own children need support with childcare to remain in the workplace but they are also looking after very elderly parents, who are living into their 90s, maybe in sheltered care or care homes and require regular visits or support to remain living independently.

On average this generation cares for relatives for around 20 hours a week and this can also be around trying to hold down work themselves or running their own business.

In the UK the sandwich generation accounts for approx. 3% of the population and they can be as young as 40 and go into their 60’s. This generation is having to quit their jobs or reduce hours to be able to support both children and elderly relatives. Employers are having to really think about how they can support this group of their employees, providing a more flexible approach to their job roles, to keep them in the workplace, as they are often some of the most skilled employees due to age and experience in the business.

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