Sandwich Generation: Parenting, Elderly Care and Burnout

Sandwich Generation: Parenting, Elderly Care and Burnout

The sandwich generation is a unique group of individuals who find themselves sandwiched between the responsibilities of raising their children while simultaneously caring for ageing parents or other elderly loved ones. Approximately 1.3 million people in the UK now have this responsibility, and we need to talk about it.

Imagine wearing multiple hats throughout the day: being a carer to a mother or father, a parent to a daughter or son, and, on top of that, an invaluable asset to your workplace. It’s a dance of roles that requires grace, patience, and abundant love. However, it’s also a dance that can become overwhelming and lonely, especially when the challenges come all at once. So, how does this delicate balance impact the wellbeing of those in this position, both emotionally and within our workplaces?

According to a 2019 government report, 27% of people in the sandwich generation described themselves as having mild to moderate mental health symptoms.

The descriptor “mild to moderate mental health symptoms” typically refers to a range of noticeable psychological symptoms that affect day-to-day living but are not so severe as to cause complete impairment or dysfunction. These could include:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anger
  • Feeling burned out


These symptoms are significant enough to be recognised, but with so many demands to address first, those in the sandwich generation often struggle to make time to check in with their own mental wellbeing.

Understanding the Challenges of the Sandwich Generation

A school closure, a client emergency or an ill parent can throw off the delicate balance. There’s no doubt that the juggling act of attending to the needs of both generations can be physically and emotionally draining. The constant worry about providing the best care for both children and ageing parents can take a toll on mental health. 

Additionally, a juxtaposition – the push and pull between external obligations and internal ambitions – adds another layer of complexity. It underlines the importance of creating supportive structures and opportunities to address challenges and ensure they have avenues to explore and realise personal goals and potential.

If you have an employee in the Sandwich Generation…

Those in the Sandwich Generation are often at the height of their career and can bring immense value to the workforce when they feel fully supported. Managers and business leaders will inevitably play a vital role in shaping a company culture that values its employees and recognises the extra responsibilities they might have outside the workplace by:

  • Creating an environment of open and honest communication 
  • Encouraging everyone to ask for help if they need it
  • Sign-posting resources and mental health support 
  • Modelling healthy boundaries
  • Showing vulnerability 


Talking and sharing the difficulties and challenges of caregiving can help alleviate some of the burden and lead to a better understanding and support system. This starts at the top, with leadership teams leading by example.  

It’s important to remember that asking for assistance is not a sign of weakness but a positive step to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

Why does supporting the Sandwich Generation matter for businesses?

HR leaders are uniquely positioned: Many companies have more open roles than they can fill, and the competition to land and retain top performers is intense. Yet the very talent organisations struggle to hire the same talent that often feels forced to walk out the door because they don’t feel accommodated in the workplace.

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

How can Onebright help?

Onebright offers corporate mental health audits and training that can assist large, medium and small businesses in tackling the inherent challenges the sandwich generation faces. Our mental health experts will actively work with your teams to understand employee needs and ensure management teams are trained to recognise early warning signs, provide timely support, and implement strategies that foster a compassionate and understanding corporate culture. 

Please fill out the form below; one of the Onebright team will contact you shortly. 

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