07/10/2010 07:05 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Caring For Grandchildren And Elderly Parents Takes Its Toll On 'Sandwich Generation'

Millions of grandparents are putting their health at risk coping with the double burden of caring for grandchildren and their own elderly parents, says a new study.

The report reveals a new 'sandwich' generation of people – mainly women – in their 50s and 60s who are increasingly finding themselves looking after their youngest and oldest relatives instead of winding down towards retirement.

The pressure of these roles means that carers are suffering from ill health, financial hardship and even relationship breakdowns triggered by their overwhelming workload.
Live-in care specialists Helping Hands, who carried out the study, blame the rise of the 'sandwich' generation on longer life expectancy and the modern trend for mothers to return to work and rely on grandparents for babysitting. An estimated one in three families now comprises four generations.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Helping Hands spokeswoman Lindsey Edgehill said: 'Instead of enjoying the so-called best years of your life, people approaching retirement are under more pressure than ever.'

Around 3,000 over-55s were questioned, and it was found that 65 per cent of them said they were struggling to care for both the eldest and youngest generations of their family.

Nearly two in three who have retired said they were 'busy caring for other people' and 35 per cent said they felt overwhelmed by the pressures they faced.

One in four said they were having to support grandchildren financially, with an average spend of £118 per month. Most of the money goes on food, clothes, bills and saving for the future of their grandchildren.

It also emerged that women are feeling the strain than men, with nearly half saying they had no time for themselves.

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Are you a 'sandwich generation' grandparent?
Are you feeling the strain?