Changing demographics and social norms in Australia have given rise to a new phenomenon: the ‘sandwich generation’ – those caught between caring for their own children as well as their ageing parents.
Parents are choosing to start their families later. The fertility rate for women aged 35-39 has more than doubled over the last 30 years, while the rate for women aged 40-44 has tripled. At the same time, rising property prices and higher costs of living are enticing adult children to remain living at home for longer.
At the other end of the spectrum, Australians are also living longer. The life expectancy of Australians currently stands at 82.5 years, up more than 10 years from the 1960 rate of 71 years.
Those sandwiched between care of their own children and the care of their parents have been coined ‘the sandwich generation’.
Compounding the pressure on many ‘sandwich’ families is the rising proportion of women in the workforce. Where women may previously have been at home and more available to fulfil caring roles, they are now, more often than not, occupied with their own busy jobs.
Being caught in the sandwich generation can be emotionally and physically exhausting. What is the best way for carers to manage their competing priorities? After all, caregivers can only continue to provide good support it they look after themselves.
Recruiting the right help is one of the best ways carers can relieve the pressures they are feeling.
Kate Spurway founded NurseWatch with the sandwich generation in mind, with the aim of providing care for those with busy lives and heavily competing demands on their time.
NurseWatch is a little different from other home care providers, because it’s a fee-for-service offering that focuses on wellness and prevention, as well as treatment.
Spurway has provided support not only for ageing parents, but also for the ‘sandwich’ carers themselves who are generally in their 50s and may have health concerns of their own.
NurseWatch offers yoga, massage, health coaching, and mindfulness, as well as wound care, post-hospital care, assistance with medical appointments, and medication assistance.
Highly qualified and experienced carers work with clients to establish personalised environments and routines that are designed to preserve vitality and wellbeing, as well as restore good health.
Ms Spurway says it’s important for older people to remain active in their communities, for example to continue taking part in activities they love, whether it be furniture making, ballet, or going on a holiday. NurseWatch can help facilitate these activities.
NurseWatch follows a ‘wellness, care, social’ model: creating wellness in a caring environment, while providing nurturing, social engagement.
Caring isn’t easy, and for those with competing demands on their time, it’s almost impossible. Acknowledging this fact, accepting help is needed, and then putting the right systems and routines in place, will not only take care of the caring, it will help the ‘sandwiched’ carers regain balance – and ultimately help them to be more present for their loved ones who need them.