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More men than women in the Sandwich Generation provide day-to-day help for their parents

6th April 2015 Print

With the population of over 65’s continuing to grow and the average age of women having their first child also rising, a growing number of people are coming under pressure to care for and support not only their offspring, but also their ageing parents, as well as holding down employment. Within this ‘Sandwich Generation’*, new research from Mintel shows that seven in 10 (68%) say they give day-to-day help to their parents or their partner’s parents and almost a third (30%) offer financial help.

Notably, whilst stereotypically it is the women of the family who provide care to elderly parents, Mintel’s research shows that amongst the Sandwich generation, men are more likely to take an active role. Of UK adults who support both parents and children, 71% of men say they maintain the wellbeing of their parents or their partner’s parents compared to 65% of women, whilst a third (32%) of men say they provide financial help compared to just over a quarter (27%) of women.

What is more, whilst some 96% of mums take care of children when sick compared to 26% of dads, almost half (45%) of men in the Sandwich generation take their parents or their partner’s parents to medical appointments compared to a third (33%) of women.

Jack Duckett, Consumer Lifestyle Analyst at Mintel, said: “Today’s parents are increasingly under pressure to care for and support not only their offspring, but also their ageing parents whilst holding down employment; leaving them ‘sandwiched’ between generations. As adults falling into the Sandwich Generation are only set to increase in number as the population continues to age, this generates multiple opportunities for companies and brands to help provide assistance and support for families under pressure. The high level of involvement that men have when it comes to looking after their parents or their partner’s parents can be attributed to women largely retaining responsibility for caring for their own children.”

Mintel’s research also reflects the time-pressed nature of this generation, with three-quarters (76%) of ‘Sandwichers’ currently in employment and 51% claiming they don’t have much free time for themselves, rising to 61% of those aged 35-44. In addition, two in five (39%) of this generation say they’ve had to take time out of work to look after their parents, their partner’s parents, or their children in the past year.

Consequently, over a quarter (27%) of this generation indicate they would be interested in greater workplace flexibility and 23% indicate they would like more healthcare advice about how to look after ageing parents. Interest in receiving support for helping children move out of the family home is also high, with one in five (19%) ‘Sandwichers’ expressing interest in initiatives designed to help children fly the nest.

“Whilst children may grow up and flee the nest eventually, the rapid increase of older adults is only likely to put more pressure on today’s Sandwich Generation; after all, the oldest demographics will continue to require ever more levels of care in coming years. This makes it crucial for brands and companies to look to support carers, particularly through the development of new technologies and services that will help to ease their lifestyles and provide them with some much-needed ‘me-time’.” Jack comments.

One major benefit to arise from the time pressures put on Sandwich Generation adults is the amount of time their children often get to spend with their grandparents. Indeed, three-quarters (76%) of Brits in the sandwich generation say their children spend some of their free time with their grandparents and 72% say they try to find activities that they, their parents and their children can do together.

“As the Sandwich Generation grows, providing additional support to those caring for both children and parents, as well as providing them with opportunities to take time out for themselves, will be essential. There is huge value to be found in helping these multi-generational family structures enjoy time together, as it allows them not only to build strong emotional bonds but also to share important life-skills.” Jack concludes.

*The Sandwich Generation (‘Sandwichers’) is defined by this report as adults aged 30+ who are responsible both for bringing up their own children and for the care of their ageing parents.

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