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Sandwiched and feeling the squeeze

Sandwiched and feeling the squeeze

The holiday season can be an especially challenging time, for a generation of New Zealanders caught in a costly caring trap.

Silently squeezed between looking after an elderly family member and raising their own children, they’re finding themselves stretched – financially, emotionally and timewise.

They’re the ‘sandwich generation’ – a group that’s bearing the day-to-day brunt of a society where the over 65s are living longer while their own children are arriving later.

“We now have a generation who are actively caring for a generation above them, fully engaged in raising a generation below and doing both for a significant period of time,” says Public Trust’s General Manager Retail Julian Travaglia.

“The responsibilities they face and the tasks they’re undertaking from being sandwiched between two generations are coming at a cost to their own wellbeing.

“The problem is further exacerbated by the need to keep elderly parents in their own home as long as possible before seeking rest home care. At the same time, housing and education costs mean children are relying on parental support for longer.”

Public Trust undertook market research to determine if its Personal Assist service was still meeting the needs of the market.

“Our sense was that there is a growing need for even more specialised services to help ease the burden of those people tending to everyday financial, property and personal administration, while also juggling a lot of other responsibilities. Our research has shown this to largely be the case,” says Public Trust’s Head of Marketing and Partnerships Josh Byers.

Some interesting findings from Public Trust’s research:
• The sandwich generation tend to be 34–54 years old, with 60% female.
• Caring is costly:
o The sandwich generation are spending on average $5,730 a year supporting someone over 65 years of age. Interestingly, 17% are spending more than $10,000 a year.
o Those also caring for someone 18 years of age or older are spending on average $5,186 a year on each individual.
• Time poor – the sandwich generation have on average around 700 fewer hours per year for relaxation, personal activities and welfare.
• Emotionally stretched – 38% of the sandwich generation said they felt like they were at an emotional breaking point.

Services such as Public Trust’s Personal Assist service are designed to free up time for those weighed down by financial and property administration, leaving more opportunity for rest, hobbies and spending quality time with loved ones.

“The need is clearly there for these services. However, it may still take a bit of a cultural shift before they are fully embraced. It may be similar to how people reacted to the idea of rest homes or daycare facilities at first,” says Julian Travaglia.

“Many people probably have trouble with the idea of a third party taking care of some financial and property responsibilities that they believe they should do themselves. But if it means a better quality of life, then why not use them?”

Find out more about the Sandwich Generation from the New Zealand Herald.

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