From Baby Boomers to the Club Sandwich Generation

Who would have predicted that so many of us Baby Boomers would turn into the Club Sandwich Generation?

More and more people born in the 1950s are finding themselves dubbed with this latest buzz phrase, so called because they are having to help support three other generations – caring for elderly parents, providing some support for adult children, and helping look after grandchildren.

While most people look forward to slowing down and devoting more time to themselves as they approach retirement age, many are finding that instead their layers of responsibility are increasing.  A third of the UK’s 6.5 million informal carers are now aged 65+.

The top layer of this ‘sandwich’ is uppermost in my own mind at the moment as my mother approaches her 97th birthday.

Now that we’re generally living longer, it’s wonderful to know that we’re likely to have our parents in our lives for much longer than previous generations were able to.

However, the ageing process has always brought significant challenges and these days a growing concern is the increase in the number of older people living with frailty.  Frailty is, quite simply, caused by getting older, and currently affects up to a half of those aged over 85. 

As our bodies begin to lose their in-built reserves we become more vulnerable, with falls being a particular hazard. Dramatic and sudden changes in health triggered by small things, such as a change in medication or a minor infection, are also very common and can have devastating effects.

At Leuchie House, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of people with frailty coming to stay with us. So much so, we feel it is becoming a long term condition in its own right, with the need for a dedicated care and support strategy.

I know from my own mother that being able to continue to be independent, to be treated with dignity, and to retain as much control over her life as possible are all absolutely essential to her ongoing health and wellbeing.

Independence, dignity and control. Sounds like a great recipe for the top layer of this particular club sandwich.

Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier, 5 March 2018.