Much has been written about the traditional sandwich generation, a generation of people responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child, and about one-in-seven middle-aged adults is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child1.
The Reality of Time in Retirment
With generations living longer, healthier lives we are seeing more of our retiring clients help care for three generations as well as themselves. Their parents are still alive and their kids have kids of their own. Many find the reality of retirement is not what they envisioned and end up giving up much of their planned “play” time for caregiving. Although this wasn’t what they planned, many are happy that they remain healthy enough to be actively involved in their grandchildren’s lives while still being able to have the time and energy for their parent’s care.
Being a Part of the Club Sandwich Generation
The new label we hear being tossed around is the Club Sandwich Generation: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren.
Having recently become a grandparent myself and fortunate enough to have both of my parents still alive and healthy in their late 80’s, I am now a card carrying member of the Club Sandwich Generation Club. Fortunately for me my family hasn’t needed a lot of care-taking, but I am planning for that possibility down the road.
For our clients this presents many challenges. Becoming a part of the Club Sandwich Generation may have unexpected demands on their time, health and finances but also career development for those who continue to work. Working Sandwich Generation caregivers may be forced to make adjustments in their careers, such as turning down promotions, scaling back hours or even leaving their jobs. As Sandwich Generation employees feel the pressure of work and home, their employers too are feeling the effects. Businesses are losing tens of billions each year in lost productivity costs due to care-related issues2.
Preventing Financial Burden
Though becoming part of the Club Sandwich Generation might be unavoidable there are ways that you might be able to help prevent financial burdens as well as personal health risks.
1. Set some boundaries for your financial spending. Either set aside money that could be used for your extended family or allocate “X” amount of money per month that you set aside for them. Be careful to not sacrifice your financial security.
2. Consider a family meeting to discuss how best to use your time and money to care for the various family members needs.
3. If you are working – talk with your employer to see if you can build in more flexibility into your job or if there are senior or childcare-related benefits.
4. Talk to your tax preparer about available tax deductions.
5. Use the resources available to you. In the twin cites one very good aging resource is the Senior LinkAge Line, linking you to local aging experts.
6. If you, your parents and your adult children haven’t done your estate planning now is the time to do so.
7. Remember to take care of yourself.
I believe that the growing evolution towards interdependence due to longevity and financial drivers is positive for our families and our communities.
1 Source: Pew Research Center. (2013). The Sandwich Generation: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/01/30/the-sandwich-generation/
2 Source: Gallup-Healthways. (2011). Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey: Caregiving Costs U.S. Economy $25.2 Billion in Lost Productivity: http://www.gallup.com/poll/148670/caregiving-costs-economy-billion-lost-productivity.aspx