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Are you part of the stretch generation?

If you're helping your children out but at the same time you are still looking after your own parents, then you're part of the "stretch generation".

A growing problem

With an increasingly elderly population this isn't a situation that's going to go away. This of course impacts the health and happiness of the people caught in the middle, often also referred to as the "sandwich generation".

It can impact wealth too. As well as the costs involved in running around, the equity stored in many people's parents' homes helps them cope with their own old age. But increasingly that is denuded and even completely swallowed up by care expenses.

Money you should be saving for retirement is increasingly required to help your own children make their way in life, in supporting higher education costs or helping them get on to an increasingly steep property ladder.

Time is finite

Time spent looking after younger and older relatives, taking them out to healthcare appointments and visits, can take a toll on those who already have busy lives, often in stressful jobs with high levels of responsibility.

This is made worse because different generations of families are far less likely to live close to each other these days.

What can you do?

Assuming there's no fairy godmother with a magic wand to pay for other care solutions, the only thing that can be done is to manage the situation as best you can.

A poll taken five years ago by Gransnet, a social network website for the over 50s, revealed that many people feel that they are being taken advantage of. Although they want to help, they felt obliged to be at everyone's beck and call, and guilty if they refused requests.

Set limits

For your own health, wealth and happiness it's imperative to find a way to balance the demands.

Moving house to be closer to relatives is one option but with a generally more mobile population there's nothing to say that you might have to move again.

Look for other options for certain tasks, for example many surgeries, hospitals and clinics have volunteer drivers to ferry people. Many schools also offer after-school classes at minimal cost which can claw back a few hours.

Be reasonable when fielding requests as to what can and can't do, so that you can help without feeling put upon - you'll soon gain peace of mind.



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