Not retiring: caring responsibilities at xmas

Many older people will have caring responsibilities at xmas – whether as grandparents, parents or carers. It’s important at this time that employees feel someone has their back.

Grandparents caring responsibilities

Grandparents caring for grandchildren under 12 may qualify for Class 3 National Insurance credits

It’s Christmas and a busy time of year generally, but for many older workers with caring responsibilities as grandparents, carers or parents it is particularly busy.

Our recent survey of older workers showed only a small proportion didn’t have caring responsibilities of some kind. 46% were supporting grown-up kids, possibly through university/college or apprenticeships and, given it is very hard to get on any kind of housing ladder or even to rent these days many of those grown-up kids may be around for some time. As people choose to and are able to have children at a later age it is not surprising that 20% were still looking after young or school-aged children. Just 27% didn’t have caring responsibilities – 27% were caring for parents or older relatives while 17% were caring for a partner. 14% had caring responsibilities for their grandchildren. Often these caring responsibilities cross over. Grandparents are also caring for older parents or partners. Parents of dependent children are also caring for their own parents – the so-called sandwich generation.

It can be extremely stressful with not much time to take a breath between all of that and working. The lead-up to Christmas can be especially busy on both the home and work front and many people are just looking forward to a few days off at Christmas, if they are able to get them.

Everyone you speak to has that slightly frazzled look. Which is not to say that Christmas cannot be an enormously joyful time of year, especially if you can just take it easy and there are few family tensions. It can also be very difficult, though. Relationships are often tested and, for many older people, without dependents or caring responsibilities, it can be fairly lonely.

But it’s only a few days – whether for ill or good. It’s not everyday life, but, at best, it can allow some time for a pause or to reconnect or connect more deeply with the people who matter. This year has been another difficult one for many finance and health wise. We’re still really just coming out of the pandemic – it has a long tail. Covid is still around; some are still suffering with Long Covid.

We live in fragile times, which makes it all the more important for employers to check in with their staff regularly – caring about mental wellbeing should not just be a lockdown thing, after all – and ensure managers are aware of the different pressures on workers of all ages while employers are also making sure that the managers also get the right support.
We’ve all been through a lot in the last few years and yet we face wave after wave of challenges. That makes it all the more important to make sure everyone feels that someone has their back. Happy Christmas!

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