Sandwich carers a generation caught in the middle

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Do you find yourself organising your time between catering to your children’s needs and those of your ageing parents, with very little time for yourself? Well, you’re not alone; in fact there’s almost a whole generation of people, made up of Baby Boomers and Gen Xs, who are finding themselves in this very position and there’s even a term: ‘sandwich carers’.“It’s used to refer to people running around for their elderly parents, but also running around and caring for their adult children or grandchildren. They are ‘stuck in the middle’ of two very needy generations,” says Kia Antoniadis, family counsellor at the Australian Greek Welfare Society (AGWS).With the cost of living expenses increasing, it’s not uncommon for children to stay living at home with their parents well into their late 20s and 30s. Meanwhile, the elderly are living longer and their needs are increasing. But while trying to be there for everyone else, far from retirement age, there’s also the challenge of maintaining a career and looking after oneself – a combination of factors that are causing stress levels for this group to hit the roof.“I’m seeing a lot of these people; they’re coming in and saying ‘I just can’t cope, my parents are really unreasonable, they expect me to do everything. I’ve still got kids at home, so I can never find time to do anything for myself.’. This is the most common issue – that they’re very stressed,” says Ms Antoniadis.While this is a scenario common across mainstream society, the AGWS is looking to address aspects that have been linked to the Greek Australian culture and value system, in which the infliction of guilt features highly. “These people are so stressed and full of guilt and are neglecting their own needs. They’ve been raised by people who were migrants, who didn’t speak the language and needed a lot of help, and so they’ve grown up with this mentality whereby we have to care for our parents,” she explains.“It’s also the messages we’ve been hearing while growing up: ‘We’ve come out here [to Australia], we’ve sacrificed so much for you guys’ – it’s made them feel like they’re obligated to help. “There’s also this sense that you’re always going to be a parent, no matter what age your child is; they’re still babying them and fostering a sense of dependency.”To confront the issue head on, the AGWS is preparing to run a workshop this month especially for ‘sandwich carers’. Run in English, it will be a chance for people to get together with others in a similar position, to share some of their experiences, better understand their situation and think about possible lifestyle changes to improve matters and minimise stress.The ‘Sandwich Carers’ Workshop will take place on Thursday 26 May at the AGWS, 7 Union St, Brunswick, VIC from 6.00 pm-8.00 pm. Attendance is free of charge. Bookings are essential. For more information and to express your interest, contact Kia Antoniadis on (03) 9388 9998 or email [email protected]last_img

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