Engage Mutual Comments as ‘Sandwich Generation’ Rejects Care Home Option for Elderly

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Engage Mutual, one of the larger UK mutuals, providing simple, value for money savings, protection and investment products, comments as it is revealed one in four now reject the care home option for elderly parents and take on the role of carers themselves.

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What the Government needs to wake up to is that millions of parents are already taking on the role of carers for elderly relatives.

Engage Mutual, one of the larger UK mutuals, providing simple, value for money savings, protection and investment products, comments as it is revealed one in four now reject the care home option for elderly patients and take on the role of carers themselves.

Notions of a selfish society are cast aside as new research reveals that the 45-60 age group is shouldering the responsibility of looking after elderly parents. Despite active levels of family engagement, all but a minority find it hard to have the conversation about long-term care needs, and for most, care homes are not an option.

The new research for Engage Mutual’s ‘engage with you’ community website, which launched this week, polled a GB representative sample of more than 1,000 adults aged between 45-60 – the busy “sandwich generation” balancing the need to support children and elderly parents – and asked them about their attitude towards care for their elderly parents.

Only 4% of respondents had elderly parents in a care home and 83% wouldn’t consider it an option, even if cost was not an issue. The vast majority of 45-60 year-olds managed to support their parents – and around one in four (24%) had taken on an active carer role providing regular, routine support to help them cope with their daily life.

Majority Engaged with Elderly Parents

When asked to describe their current relationship with their elderly parents:

  • 45% said their elderly parents were an implicit part of family life and they saw them often.
  • 24% give daily, routine support to help their elderly relatives cope with daily life.
  • 16% said they already had a busy and hectic schedule but somehow always managed to fit in time to help their elderly parents.
  • 5% said they gave elderly relatives a lot of financial support: For the majority, support was defined in terms of time and practical help.

Active Support System Despite Busy Lives

The poll also discovered that more than seven in 10 people surveyed (71%) provide practical, routine help to their elderly parents at least a few times a month, with just 17% saying they were unable to do much because they lived too far away.

Top 10 forms of active support:

Talk regularly on the phone 59%
Take to medical appointments 20%
Pop round to check they’re OK 29%
Help with their finances 15%
Do odd jobs around home 28%
Stock up on groceries 14%
Take them for days out 27%
Decorating/plumbing 13%
Help with gardening 23%
Cleaning the house 11%

More than a third of people surveyed (36%) had an elderly parent living alone and here the level of support across a range of tasks was significantly higher. For some, this suggests the demands on support could intensify as their parents become older.

Whilst the majority were helping their parents, with around one in four (24%) providing regular help, the research for ‘engage with you’ also revealed that only 36% of 45-60 year olds said they had had a serious conversation with their elderly relative(s) about a long-term care plan. Many did not want to start a conversation that would be upsetting and some said they didn’t know how to start the conversation. Set against the positive practical support provided, these communication barriers are storing up challenges for the future.

Karl Elliott, Director for the engage with you community website, said: “Notions of Britain as a selfish society with people having little respect for the elderly are out of touch. Our research shows that there is a strong sense of family in Britain today and a commitment to ensuring elderly parents can enjoy a dignified, independent and supported lifestyle as an active and integral part of the family. The recent horror stories on care homes may have had an impact but, for many, this was never an option under consideration.

“What the Government needs to wake up to is that millions of parents are already taking on the role of carers for elderly relatives. Many are juggling a caring role with busy jobs and still supporting their children. Time is tight, money is tight, is there any support headed their way?”

Following months of listening to the experiences of people around the UK that have taken on care roles, Engage Mutual this week launches http://www.engagewithyou.com, an online community for those facing the challenge of supporting elderly relatives. Here they can share experiences and stories, get free independent information and discover what support is currently available to help make balanced and informed decisions. Visit the site today to share, talk and listen with others.

Over time ‘engage with you’ will expand to address a variety of other life issues specific to this generation.

The research was undertaken for Engage Mutual by YouGov between 4-9 April 2012. The survey polled a GB representative sample of 1,008 people aged 45-60 who had elderly parents and 500 people aged over 65 who had adult children. Additional tables are available on request.

For further information, customers can contact Engage Mutual on 0800 169 4321 or visit http://www.engagemutual.com.

About Engage Mutual:

http://www.engagewithyou.com is an online community that signposts help and information for a responsibility laden generation in the hectic middle of life. Here they can share experiences, stories and tips, and find solutions to help them deal with a range of issues.

This new venture for customer owned financial services provider Engage Mutual, will see it provide an environment for people to connect, help, and support each other. Engage Mutual is one of the larger UK mutuals providing simple, value for money savings, protection and investment products to more than 500,000 customers.

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Guy Bellamy
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