As the ‘Sandwich Generation’ struggles to balance the demands of raising children and caring for aging parents, the stress is taking a toll.
The costs of raising a child are well known, and parents have financial obligations for raising their children, with some estimates of around $12,000 annually per child. However, members of the “sandwich generation” often financially support their own parent(s) in addition to their children.
The Sandwich Generation
Pew Research Center defines the “Sandwich Generation” as “adults who have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child under age 18 or supporting a grown child”.
These adults are “squeezed” between taking care of their young children, physically and financially, and taking care of their aging parents physically and/or financially.
Sandwiched in Stress
A new survey shows that 66% of the sandwich generation — Americans who are raising or financially supporting children and also have at least one living parent age 65+ — are either “very stressed” (29%) or “somewhat stressed” (37%) about affording their family’s financial obligations over the next ten years.
The Policygenius survey also found that more than half of the sandwich generation (52%) expect that supporting their parent(s) will cost just as much or even more than supporting their children over the next five years.
Other findings from the Sandwich Generation Survey include the following:
- When asked how they would pay for long-term care for their parent(s):
- 48% said they would use Medicare — even though Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care
- 18% said they would have to pay for it themselves
- 19% said they don’t know how they’d pay for it
- 24% haven’t discussed financial needs, health care needs, a will, end-of-life care wishes, or estate planning with their aging parent(s).
- 49% don’t have life insurance to help financially support their loved ones after they die.
“Being a caregiver, whether for your children or parents, can be extremely stressful, especially when you’re balancing it with other responsibilities and your long-term goals,” Myles Ma, personal finance expert at Policygenius, said. “What’s really surprising is how seldom people are talking about what this entails, especially with their loved ones, which could explain why many of them also don’t have financial protection, like life insurance, in place.”
Before you get involved in all the nitty-gritty of care, she says, “Understand that you are not required to selflessly throw yourself into a caregiving role. Remember that you deserve to make a choice that will protect your emotional and physical well-being. Your decision to get involved should be on your terms. Join an online support group or build a caregiving community on social media can help validate your feelings and give you a place to ask for advice. “
After that, “Create a list of people or resources that you can rely on. An emergency plan can alleviate anxiety around possible “what-if” scenarios. Make sure your roster is filled with a few people who can be there for you on short notice. As well as set up support people who can help you with your kids while you are gone. Get copies of your loved one’s essential legal and medical documents like insurance policies, advance directives, will, and a current medication list.”
Delegate and Coordinate
Hire a Professional
Both Kevin and Danielle urge adults in this situation to make sure they have all the legal documents and agreements in order as soon as possible. Danielle says, “Visit an elder law attorney to ensure your loved one’s legal documents are in order and understand their options to qualify for Medicaid.”
Kevin concurs, “If you are currently caring for, or likely to care for Mom / Dad, make sure you have legal access and authority to make decisions on their behalf. For example, you might need a Power of Attorney to access their bank accounts and pay their bills. Make sure those documents are completed and in your hands. You also want to make sure they are on file with your financial institutions, so there is no delay.”