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Sandwich generation

When this phrase was first made known to me -- that there is a group called the 'Sandwich Generation' -- I thought it referred to people who brought their lunch from home in order to save money.

I wasn't that far off.

Coined by Dorothy Miller in 1981, the term refers to that generation who are finding themselves responsible for seeing to the needs of both their children and their own parents. The age group is typically between 45 and 65 -- and some may even find themselves responsible for their grandchildren as well.

Saving money by packing your own lunch is the least of it, and it's not always the economic aspects that apply the most pressure.

"Based on our experience in dealing with over 2,000 clients each year -- most of whom are the adult daughters and sons of elderly parents -- the vast majority feel some level of guilt that they cannot look after their parents to the degree that they would like," says Grainne Byrne.

"Many attempt to do so while holding down jobs and looking after their own families -- and their own physical and mental health can suffer."

Depression and marital conflicts are a huge factor when a couple, who may have been thinking fondly of their own retirement, suddenly find themselves with adult children back into the nest, and ailing parents, to care for.


On homecare.com, SandGens (yes, that's the abbreviation), you can find excellent advice regarding how to cope with the stress, how to take some of the pressure off, and especially, a calm, collected and non-confrontational way to ask for help:

>Make a list of all the tasks you have completed, in caring for the loved ones, in the course of one day, such as transportation, supervision and socialisation.

>Put a star next to the items that are part of the regular routine, i.e, those that can be delegated

>Hand out copies of the list and ask that close friends or family members see is there anything on that list that they might be able to do.

>Then, make sure that you use the newly freed-up time for yourself!

For further tips and resources

in Ireland, visit