Much has been written about the “sandwich” generation, people who are looking after their aging parents whilst bringing up their own children. However, according to a new report by the Institute of Public Policy Research, the increasing numbers of people surviving into their 80s and 90s means that there are also many grandparents who they themselves are in a caring role. This group of people who are combining the care of their elderly parents with looking after their grandchildren were dubbed recently by The Daily Telegraph as “the club sandwich” generation.
How did this happen? In the past 20 years there has been a huge demogaphic shift, with better health care and higher standards of living resulting in people living longer. This means it is now possible for people in their late 60s and 70s to still have their parents alive – something unimaginable a generation ago.
The big question is how are families going to afford these layers of care. Again, the “club sandwich” grandparents are likely to be asked to step up to the plate. Newly retired, they may be first choice for childcare whilst the children’s mothers return to work. Also these grandparents are most likely to have accumulated capital which can be released for care of older relatives. Houses will have to be sold and intergenerational living will have to become more common. Now is probably not the time to be an only child.