Feel like a sandwich?

No, I am not referring to a piping hot ham and tomato toastie with cheese oozing out the middle, but rather I am referring to your current lifestyle.

Recently I made an observation about the number of grandparents looking after young children in a local park, and how those of us approaching retirement today often find ourselves playing the role of ‘carer for the young and old’.

For those of us in our 50’s and 60’s, we have become the ‘sandwich generation’. We are caught between our children and their growing families, and in many cases, our own parents who are approaching their twilight years.

As we approach or enter retirement, many of us still have one or both parents alive. This is a product of an increasing life expectancy. According to the World Health Organization, Australia ranks 4th in the world for having the longest average life expectancy.

With the added pressure on young families to have two incomes simply to be able to afford to enjoy the lifestyle they desire, coupled with the spiralling costs of child care, today’s 50 and 60 years olds are also becoming the part-time or even full-time carers for their grandchildren.

So, where does this leave today’s ‘young’ retirees?

They find themselves providing increasing care for aged parents, whose needs for assistance will only increase with age and, at the same time they are spending time caring for their grandchildren, even if that is just picking them up and providing after-school care.

It’s fair to say that most grandparents love to spend time with their grandchildren – watching them grow and learning to master new skills. But, this can be exhausting, particularly as grandparents start to age themselves.

When coupled with caring for older parents, that can be even more demanding.

Perhaps, for those of us with older parents, some time spent finding out what services are available in the local community is a good starting point. Whether it is the need for help when cleaning the house, mowing the lawns, administering medication, or otherwise helping to manage daily living, exploring what is available, on a short-term or longer-term basis, is worthwhile.

We need to take time out for ourselves, while still acknowledging the need to provide support and assistance where we can.

Drawing on the support of other agencies and services when the need arises should never be seen as a weakness on our part. After all, and despite the perceptions of our families, we are still only human!


Source:  Peter Kelly | Centrepoint Alliance