At forty-one, Amanda Jones has children, a partner and work that she enjoys. She is also a primary carer for her 73-year-old mother who has dementia.
She is one of the 1.3 million people in the UK known as a ‘sandwich carer’ – those who have the dual responsibility of caring for sick, disabled or elderly relatives, as well as their own children.
The stress of covering her different roles led Ms Jones to give up full-time work last year.
She said: “The emotions can be a roller coaster. The constant worrying gets you down and the burden of simultaneously shouldering responsibility puts an enormous strain on family life.”
More than a quarter of ‘sandwich carers’ are now reported to be suffering from depression and anxiety, according to new figures released from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Those carers are also struggling financially, with one in three saying they are ‘just about getting by’ financially, while one in ten are ‘finding it difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to cope.
The prevalence of mental ill-health has been found to increase with the amount of care given. More than a third of sandwich carers providing at least 20 hours of adult care per week report symptoms of mental ill-health, compared with 23 per cent of those providing fewer than five hours each week.
One in four report health problems, relationship troubles and isolation among the difficulties also related to their caring role.
As Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, put it “It is vital that the Government provides ambitious proposals for the funding and delivery of adult social care in the upcoming Green Paper – proposals that better support older and disabled people, giving the sandwich generation the ability to better manage work and caring responsibilities. It must ensure that they receive practical and financial support to care without putting their own lives on hold.”
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