How can technology support the sandwich generation?
31 December 2019 | 0 Comment
As people live longer, and families are started later in life, parents are finding themselves in a difficult situation: they are looking after growing families but also have to take care of ageing parents.
The result is the “Sandwich Generation” where an adult child, usually between the age of forty and seventy who has the dual responsibility of parenting their own children and being the primary caregiver for an older parent.
In the UK alone it is estimated that nearly 1.3 million people or around 3% of the population are now “sandwich caregivers.”
Sandwich carers are more likely to experience mental health issues like anxiety or depression than the general population. 33% of those providing at least 20 hours of care per week have reported symptoms of ill mental health. This effect on the carer’s mental health disproportionately affects women who make up around 62% of sandwich carers in the UK.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said “it is one of the most time-poor and stressed generations”, which in turn creates additional issues, such as isolation. The Jo Cox Commission found 8 out of 10 people caring for their relatives have felt lonely or socially isolated, and are twice as likely to report worsened mental health. When we were developing Konnect, we knew that it was vital that we support not only the older adult (the User) but also the carers (we call them Supporters). The easy to use TV video-calling and wellbeing monitoring system provide an instant way to connect (through the TV) and real-time data (in the Carer dashboard). With Konnect grandkids and grandparents can easily call and share photographs and videos all via the TV.
Career vs. Carer
With 46% of women feeling unable to work as much as they would like, it is clear that looking after two different generations of dependants takes a toll on the carers’ ability to forge a strong career. Kraydel is working with employers to enable valued employees, who are sandwich carers, to access the Konnect system so they can easily contact and oversee their loved ones during the day without disrupting work.
Whilst looking after two generations presents a variety of challenges, there can be benefits of having a multi-generational family unit, such as having additional care on-hand for younger children. And studies show that children who have grandparents actively involved in their upbringing show higher degrees of academic attainment.
With the Money Advice Service putting the average cost of childcare at £242 per week many parents are struggling to afford this. Having grandparents involved can at least lower the cost of childcare, while they remain mobile and independent.
But what happens when this independence decreases?
Sandwich carers are often responsible for paying for a carer for an elderly relative or helping out with the cost of their household bills. On average they spend £1,300 per month on helping elderly parents with care needs but some spend more depending on the kind of care required.
With remote wellbeing monitoring Konnect can help older adults maintain their independence for longer and reduce the cost of unnecessary in-person care. This can include virtual wellbeing check-ins and health monitoring through integrated Bluetooth devices.
Can technology help reduce the burden?
As life-span increases and families start later it is clear the role of the sandwich carer will continue to grow in importance – and could extend into three generations. More needs to be done to support our carers who play a vital role in the upbringing of our future generations and the support of our elderly – and AgeTech is a big part of the solution, providing easy to use connectivity between Supporters and Users of all ages.