The ‘sandwich’ generation is exactly what it implies - typically a women aged in her 50s or 60s that is looking after grandchildren as well as elderly parents.
Her family members are blessed and lucky if this person has the time and energy to look after the complex needs of little ones as well as frail seniors.
While most grandparents who live reasonably close to their adult children will enjoy looking after their grandchildren about once a week or babysit on the odd occasion, some grandparents are locked into doing much more care.
Some even look after their grandchildren five days a week while the parents are working full time and this is when grandparents need the support of a care organisation.
Some parents can’t afford the childcare fees or may choose not to send them to daycare centres for various reasons.
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“One reason my daughter chose not to send her two year old to care is that the little one tends to catch whatever illness is going around,” one mother Samantha said.
“My other other grandson hasn’t got a job at the moment so it’s been tough on them financially while he searches for full-time work, picking up part-time work where he can.”
Grandmother Wendy added, “While my grandchild attends a childcare centre, I get the phone call to look after her because I am not working full time. Unfortunately I often get the same illness then from the little one and as I don’t get paid if I don’t work that impacts me financially too.
“This is hopefully a short-term solution while she gets better immunity and starts big school.”
The ageing parents are lucky too if they are well looked after by their family.
“My mother has dementia so requires full-time care,” Amanda said. “Unfortunately an aged care home isn’t an option although we do receive support.
“I do enjoy spending time with her and offering her the care that she showed me when I was a child.”
Some tips for coping:
- Make sure you get regular breaks away from care duties
- Look after yourself so you can look after those in your care better
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members and organisations
- Keep health professionals in the loop
- Don’t let care drain your finances and your own future
- Some respite care may be necessary now and then
- Make sure your partner is on board with care arrangements
- Take time to keep fit and pursue hobbies
- Keep the atmosphere light hearted when possible
- Eat and offer nutritious food
- Be involved in family decisions that affect you
- Take that planned holiday
- Make time for friends
- Take shortcuts such as getting a cleaner if you are snowed under
- Know you are not alone
- Approach care organisations for help
Take part in the National Carers Week activities from October 14 to 20 so you not only have some time out to enjoy the varied activities on offer but also to chat to other carers in similar positions.
It’s amazing how much information you can glean from other carers as well as care organisations that are organising some of the fun activities.