Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sandwich Generation Headed Towards Retirement

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, as reported on the AARP blog, many people today are finding themselves part of the "sandwich generation."  In fact, almost half of all adults between the ages of 40 and 59 have a living parent who is over 65 and, at the same time, they are either still raising a child under the age of 18, or they are financially supporting an adult child.

About 27 percent of the people in the sandwich generation are providing financial support to their adult children; about 21 percent are providing some support to their aging parents.  In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services states on their website that, according to the U.S. Census of 2000, over 2.4 million grandparents have primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren.  That number has undoubtedly grown since the year 2000.

Why We Are Providing Financial Support to our Family Members

There are several reasons why so many Baby Boomers are finding themselves in the position of providing physical and financial support for other generations of their family.  One reason is the recession which started in 2007.  Since that time, many young people have found it difficult to find jobs that pay well enough to enable them to be financially independent.  Another reason is because an increasing number of elderly parents are being forced to move in with their adult children in order to survive, especially if they lost their homes or savings during the recession or as a result of long illnesses and other financial setbacks.

When family members are in financial distress, it is natural for us to reach out and help each other.  Very few of us would feel comfortable taking care of ourselves while letting our children or parents suffer.  It is very commendable that we are willing to take on these extra burdens in order to alleviate the suffering of our relatives.

How to Protect Your Own Retirement Plans

The problem is that many Baby Boomers who are part of the Sandwich generation are finding it almost impossible to save for retirement.  While they are taking on the support of their adult children and their elderly parents, their 401K's and IRA's are sitting empty.

While I would never advocate that people let their family members suffer while they build up big bank accounts, people who find themselves in the "sandwich generation" need to do some serious financial planning so they do not find themselves destitute in retirement.  If you can think of no other reason to try to save more money towards retirement, ask yourself if you want to be a burden on your children and perpetuate the stress of being in the sandwich generation on them.

More than ever, it may be wise to consult with a financial planner and make some changes in your lifestyle now so that you can help your family members, while still being able to save for your own future at the same time.

There is no reason why anyone should feel guilty about saving for their own future.  After all, if you are able to take care of yourself during your own retirement years, you will also be helping your children by not making them financially responsible for your care.  We can all work towards the day when the size of the sandwich generation decreases once again.

How to Take Care of Yourself

In addition, it is important for Baby Boomer caregivers to take care of themselves emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.  No matter how much you want to help others, you cannot do a good job of caring for your parents or grandchildren if you let yourself get run-down.

Take time to get exercise, eat right and sleep right.

Take advantage of any assistance you can get that will make caregiving easier.  Do you have other relatives that can help with the burden, at least once in a while?  Are there community resources, such as adult daycare, that can make life a little easier for yourself?

Keep up with your friends and religious affiliations.  You deserve to get a break from your burdens once in a while and renew yourself socially and spiritually.

Relax and get rest whenever you can.

If you are interested in learning more about where to retire, health issues that may arise while you age, financial planning, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Photo of multi-generational family courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. Very wise advice. Unless the sandwich generation takes steps to insure they are independent in their later years the model for the sandwich generation will continue to perpetuate itself.


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