Caregivers in the Sandwich Generation (that is people who have kids under the age of 18 who are also taking care of adult loved ones) have been impacted greatly during the pandemic. The CDC recently conducted a study, and their report reveals that 40 percent of people surveyed identified as unpaid caregivers, and two-thirds said they are struggling with poor mental health. This is a much higher rate compared to those who are not caregivers.
In this podcast, NPR correspondent Rhitu Chatterjee talks about the study and her reporting with Emily Kwong. They speak to caregivers about their firsthand experience through the pandemic: how the lack of services and programs available during the pandemic created a significant problem (both by not having the program available for their loved ones, but also not having it as a support they themselves could rely on to take on some of the caregiving work). Also, think of the need for home healthcare workers: many were not willing to go into patients homes, and thus it was hard to find one, and if you did find one, often times, the family was reluctant to have someone into the home given the risk of spreading COVID-19.
In the podcast, they also discuss the severe toll its taken on the mental health of caregivers (note: the research report found that a significant number of caregivers in the sandwich generation felt symptoms of anxiety and had suicidal ideation) and addressed how the healthcare system needs to better meet the needs of caregivers. They pinpointed how the mental and physical health of caregivers, which is often overlooked, could be tended to: when the loved ones themselves are seeing their doctor, the doctor should also screen and assess the caregivers.
Give the episode a listen here: