parent opinion

'I'm in the sandwich generation with an elderly mum and a child with disability. The mental load is exhausting.'

Thanks to our brand partner, Mable

Pieta Manning is one of the growing number of Australians who find themselves navigating the stage of life known as the sandwich generation.

It's a term that used to describe the growing proportion of people balancing between the often-competing demands of their own growing children and ageing parents. 

In Pieta’s case, her ‘sandwich’ is comprised of caring for her 21-year-old daughter Caitlin, who has Down Syndrome, and supporting her 77-year-old mother Carol, who lives interstate. 

“Mum moved to Spencer [a regional NSW town] around 18 months ago. At the time, she was in good health but that all changed really quickly due to a bad fall and some bad breaks in her arm which have greatly impacted her mobility,” Melbourne-based Pieta shares with Mamamia.

When Carol’s accident first happened, “My immediate reaction was that she can't stay there, away from us.” Pieta reflects on the difficulty of living interstate, preventing Pieta from being able to physically support Carol as much as she would have liked after her accident.

“We fought a lot after [the accident], and she was starting to resent me bossing her around,” Pieta says.

The pressures of trying to support both her mum and daughter – the reality of many who feel squished between all the responsibilities – really took its toll on Pieta.

“It's exhausting. You always feel ‘on’, you're navigating all of these competing duties and putting out small fires all the time,” she says.

One of the major challenges for Pieta was trying to navigate funding and government support, which for people with disabilities and older Australians, are two distinctly different processes.


“Trying to learn the funding models from NDIS to Home Care, it took a lot of research which I had to do by myself and it was a lot of stress,” says Pieta.

“You eventually become an expert, not because you want to but because as a carer advocating for both of them, you don’t really have a choice,” she says.

Unfortunately, as Pieta identifies, this is just one challenge of being in the sandwich generation, something as the population ages, more and more Australians will become a part of.

“So many of us will get to the point where we have to support our parents [while also raising kids], so being able to recognise that you can't do it all, and putting our hands up and saying it’s hard, is important,” she says.

For Pieta, it was admitting that she couldn’t do it all, that was a catalyst for her seeking additional support for Carol. 

Pieta had already been using the online platform, Mable, for around five years – it connects people looking for disability and aged care support to independent support workers in their community.

Pieta found the ease of use and the way it empowered its clients to take control of their own care particularly beneficial.

“The Mable app was helpful in looking at profiles, how far away support workers were, what their availability was, and what kind of personality they had. From this, Mum was able to build her own team, which allowed her to keep her independence and control of her care which was incredibly important,” she says.

Carol’s support team comprises of Fresa, who provides social and domestic support; Lynne who drives Carol to appointments and helps with some shopping; along with a local gardener and a tech support person, all of whom are funded through the government’s Home Care package.


“Mable allows Mum to actively take control of the process – right from when we were selecting which support through to scheduling help. I also have the comfort knowing that all the workers are verified, have had their police checks, and have insurance,” she says.

“The system is very simple to use and transparent, so costs, rates, notes, payments and schedules are all managed through Mable in the one place making the process easy from start to end.”

Now, with this support, Carol attends yoga in town, belongs to a book club and is still very active in the community, an important priority for her.

Not only is Carol empowered to do the things she desires, to live where she wants to live and to be happier and more connected in the process, but Pieta has peace of mind and enables her relationship with Carol to be more of a mother-daughter relationship, rather than a carer-patient dynamic.

“I wanted to respect and honour mum and her wishes, and also feel at peace knowing that she has support when she needs it,” she says.

Having a balance of safeguards, tools and the right supports in place, also means that Pieta doesn’t feel like she is managing the labour alone – which is not only beneficial for Carol’s care but also for Caitlin’s.

Pieta and Caitlin. Image: Supplied.


“Now, with this support, Caitlin can independently dress herself and get ready, order her own Uber and attend appointments,” Pieta says.

“Caitlin is a young woman, so supporting her needs and desires, as well as helping foster her independence is incredibly important.”

Explore Mable, connecting people looking for support with independent support workers.

Shortlist and connect directly with verified independent support workers, where you can mutually agree with workers on support services, pricing, time and location, all booked on the platform.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

Mable is where people looking for disability and aged care support connect to independent support workers in their community. To find or provide support, visit Mable. My Kind of Independence.