Ireland’s so-called squeezed middle is getting older, with some people in their mid-50s and older providing financial assistance to their elderly parents, as well as their own children.
The latest findings from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) shows that half of those aged 54 and over with living parents are providing them with financial help, while 48% of those in the same age category are also helping out their children with money.
Prof Rose Anne Kenny, lead researcher on TILDA, said it is “absolutely” the case that the age profile of those supporting both parents and children is getting older.
“In Ireland people are living longer year-on-year by three months a year,” she said. “We are slower than the rest of Europe, but we are catching up.”
However, the study also showed that older people are more likely to help their children financially than to be on the receiving end of monetary assistance themselves.
It also shows that grandparents are offering an average of up to 36 hours a week in babysitting services to their children, thereby facilitating them to work more. Prof Kenny said the data shows those involved in grandparenting are happier than those who do not engage as grandparents, and that their physical and mental health states are better, independent of other factors.
Older people are also the backbone of volunteering across the country. According to the study: “More than half (53%) of older adults in Ireland volunteered at some time during the previous year with 17% doing so at least once per week.”
Reacting to the findings, Justin Moran, the head of advocacy and communications at Age Action, said: “We need to move away from seeing older people as frail or passive and celebrate the contribution they are making to their families and their communities.”
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