Villages to relieve pressure on the sandwich generation

Posted on: 21 January 2015 by 50connect editorial

New membership scheme looks to reconnect social circles for busy sandwich generation women.

mature friends

Membership village communities for the over 60s are aiming to relieve pressure on the Sandwich Generation who are simultaneously juggling careers, raising children and looking after their parents, according to Sandy Sidhu, Founder and Director of Silver Villages.

Silver Villages is a new initiative that sees village communities launching across the UK and aims to combat isolation and lack of social service support, and to empower seniors to live an independent, confident and fun-filled life in their own home.  A pilot scheme in Putney has been running since January 2014 with new Silver Villages’ communities now opening in Richmond, Chiswick, Fulham, Kensington and Wimbledon with plans for the next phase to expand across London and the South East, and then nationwide.

Sidhu says: “Back in the day, it was the norm for families to simply take in their parents and become full time carers but as times have changed women are balancing their family life and the need to work so the pressures of caring for their elderly parent on top of everything else is greater than ever.  According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)*, whilst women’s lives have changed dramatically over the past 50 years and women are still the nation’s carers with many balancing care responsibilities, career and family throughout their lives.

Sidhu argues: “Although women are proud to be known as being multitaskers, the enormity of each of these responsibilities can sometimes become too overwhelming, and can ultimately result in deteriorating health and pressures on the family.”

“The next obvious decision is whether to move your loved one into a care home but for many it comes with feelings of guilt and uncertainty as to whether it is the right thing to do. Many older people don’t need a care home but do need the benefits of having care, advice and transportation readily available to them, as well as a socialising aspect.”

The membership village concept was first established by a group of friends in Beacon Hill, Boston in 1999 and with over 100 senior villages already established in the USA, its success continues to grow in popularity and has inspired people across the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands to set up their own senior villages.

“Loneliness and social isolation are grave threats to the physical and mental well-being of the older generation that needs to be addressed if they are to live healthy and fulfilling lives.  It is our mission to help our seniors stay connected and be part of a community of like-minded people, keep their dignity and enjoy life to the full.  As a nation, we have a responsibility to nurture and look after the elderly and help to improve their quality of life.”

Silver Villages aim to support our seniors live confidently in their own home, encourage them to build on new friendships and take part in social events such as coffee mornings, lunches and trips to the theatre which we organise to keep them engaged, energised and active.

Cognitive and business psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw says: “By creating social opportunities we tackle the chronic loneliness our older folk often face, which may in turn even help short-term memory loss and dementia.”

As well as the many social benefits available, Silver Village members can have peace of mind by contacting the Village Coordinator who is on-hand to help with anything from changing a light bulb to making arrangements for someone to drive them to a doctor’s appointment.  Sidhu says: “Our job is to take the worries and stress out of their hands and make everyone’s lives as easy as possible.  What might be a simple job for us can be an enormous challenge for an elderly person and for the sandwich generation it can be problematic to have to make a trip to take their elderly parent to a routine GP appointment.   By having the Village Coordinator readily available to answer questions or offer solutions to a problem, brings reassurance and relief to many, especially those who do not have immediate family living nearby.”

Silver Villages also strive to cater for seniors with a variety of different needs such as those living with dementia or cognitive impairment. 

www.silvervillages.co.uk

*http://www.ippr.org/publications/the-sandwich-generation-older-women-balancing-work-and-care

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