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Planning for livingin the sandwichgeneration
Written by: Laura Staples
Personal finance journalist and deputy editor of Moneywise magazine.
In Britain, 2.4 million people are really feeling the squeeze. They're mostly women aged between 45 and 60, and they're coping with demands on their time and finances from their children and their parents – at the same time. Meet the ‘sandwich generation'.
Rising life expectancy, people having children later in life, families living further apart from each other and high youth unemployment, are all contributing to the problem.
“As women are leaving it later to have children and a significant number are having children in their forties, the likelihood is that more and more parents will face looking after elderly parents and young children at the same time. The pressure of doing this while also balancing work responsibilities can be huge. Also, more elderly people are living longer and suffer more long-term chronic health problems,” explains Mandy Garner, editor of workingmums.co.uk, which provides practical advice and support to working women across the UK.
Frances Coppola, 53, is part of the sandwich generation. She lives in Rochester with her partner Alan and works as a singing teacher in schools. She's finding life as a working mum increasingly tough as she is juggling her career, her children and caring for her elderly parents, who live 30 miles away.
Frances' mother, who is 83, broke her hip last August and is now disabled, and Frances' father has become her full-time carer. He's just turned 80. Although Frances has siblings, they live much further away from their parents, so it mainly falls to her to support them – and while they don't need her too frequently at present, Frances knows that they will as they get older and frailer.
“But I am not free to become a full-time carer for elderly parents,” she explains. “I have a mortgage and bills to pay.”of carers are struggling to afford utility bills like electricity, gas, water or telephone bills(From The State of Caring
Frances doesn't just have elderly parents – she has dependent children too. “My son is 18 and my daughter 15, and both are still at school. I expect both of them will remain in education for several years to come. And even if they are away from home while they are at college or university, the state of youth employment at the moment is such that they are likely to remain financially dependent on me for at least another 10 years.”
“I am one of the ‘sandwich generation'. I am caught between the extended dependence of my children and the increasing dependence of my parents.”
So too is her partner, freelance music teacher Alan Whittaker, 62. Not only does he feel the same pressure to earn a decent income but he is increasingly caring for his 86-year-old
mother. She's getting increasingly frail and needs looking after. But she is reluctant to leave her home and that means Alan is having to spend more and more time away from his family. He's facing a very difficult dilemma.of carers say that financial concerns are affecting their health.(From The State of Caring
As well as the enormous emotional commitment being a carer involves, it also has very real financial consequences. Frances has found herself having to take time off work – in fact, one in seven people aged 40-65 fear losing their job if they take time off work to look after elderly parents, according to new national research for engagewithyou.com.
In Frances' case, every time she takes time off work, she either loses wages or has to make up the time. Meanwhile, she has to pay to fill up her car with petrol every time she makes the hour-long car journey to see her parents.
“My children are at an age where they need less of my time but more of my money and I just don't have any,” she laughs. “I've got to be so much more careful with my finances now.”
And while the Queen's speech promised carers a legal right to support from local councils, some have highlighted that in practice resourcing for NHS community services and social care have struggled to keep pace with demand. So if, like Frances, you're part of the sandwich generation, or soon will be, and concerned about how you'll be able to afford to support your children as well as your parents, there are a few simple things you can do to put yourself on a better financial footing.of carers felt they had missed out on financial support as a result of not getting the right information and advice early enough.(From The State of Caring
sandwich generation1. Make time for yourself:
When you're busy caring for others it can be easy to ignore your own health and wellbeing. But failing to put aside proper rest time will be likely to make life harder for you all. So get a diary and try to schedule in some down time – whether a quiet night in, a meal with friends or a couple of days away – around your commitments. Using the internet can help you cope with commitments on your terms: for example, try freeing up a little extra time by taking advantage of online banking, allowing you to manage your accounts and have instant access to your statements when it's convenient for you.2. Review your spending:
Identify the areas where you can realistically cut back. Energy and food are among the things British households spend the most on. But there are easy savings to be made on both. For example, you could save up to £320 a year by switching to a more competitive gas and electricity tariff, according to energyhelpline.com.3. Secure your financial footing:
Make sure your savings work hard by finding savings accounts which pay the best interest rates and utilise your tax-free allowance. If you don't need instant access to your cash or want the potential for capital growth or income, you could consider a range of investment options. Contact a local independent financial adviser who will help you understand your risk profile and whether any investment options are suitable for your needs.
The value of investments (and any income received from them) can fall as well as rise and you may not get back what you invested. For some investments this can also happen as a result of exchange rate fluctuations as shares and funds may have an exposure to overseas markets.
The value of the tax treatment will depend on individual circumstances and may change in the future.4. Claim any financial assistance:
You and your family might be entitled to Child Benefit, Carer's Allowance, student loans and Winter Fuel Payment from the government. You can find lots of information about support available at gov.uk.5. Find support in your local area:
There are thousands of charities and support groups helping those in need of care and those who provide care for others all around the country. They offer advice and practical support to anyone in need of help. To find organisations where you live, visit carers.org.
NHS GUIDE TO CARERS' RIGHTS
Your rights as a carer.
SOCIAL CARE INSTITUTE FOR EXCELLENCE
Great resources from the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
Find out if you can save on your energy bills.
Check what benefits you are entitled to with this government guide.
Find help where you live.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author,
and do not necessarily reflect the views of M&S Bank.About