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The Sandwich Generation’s Financial Burden

In 2021, Pew Research Center conducted a survey that revealed 23% of Americans are categorized as “sandwich generation.” As the senior population grows and younger adults are struggling to gain financial independence, many adults are finding themselves “sandwiched” between their children and their parents. This generation is simultaneously raising or providing financial support to their minor children, while also providing care or assistance to their aging parents. The sandwich generation faces unique financial stressors.

The Financial Burden of the Sandwich Generation.

As a parent to a minor and a child and to an elderly parent, you may find yourself caring for both. While you may not mind the responsibility or the act of caring for both, the financial strain can be a tremendous burden.

Caring for Children

As a parent, you are financially responsible for the well-being of your minor child. Common expenses include moving into a larger home to accommodate a growing family, daycare costs, extracurricular activities, enrichment programs, college savings, medical bills, and necessities at children require to thrive.

Caring for Senior Parents

As a caregiver to a senior parent, you are faced with other significant expenses, especially if your senior parent did not properly plan for the anticipated cost of aging. Common expenses that coincide with caring for a senior adult typically surround declining health or degenerative aging. Housing needs change as our parents require more assistance, or their health requires around-the-clock care. In this case, the cost of assisted living or nursing home care may become your burden to carry. Medical treatments, hospital stays, and prescription drug costs can come with a high price as well. Additionally, if a parent has not properly planned for retirement, they may be unable to independently afford basic hygiene, housing, and nutritional needs.

Time is Money

In addition to the direct financial stressors, time plays a significant role for the sandwich generation demographic. Time is limited by parenting alone. Parents are juggling their careers while raising children. They may miss work to stay home with their sick children or tend to their individual needs. As a caregiver, time away from your career and other personal obligations will be increased. Some caregivers may find themselves leaving their careers entirely. This can greatly impact your financial stability and even retirement plans of your own.

Tips for Easing the Financial Burden

Under the circumstances mentioned above, it may be tempting to sacrifice one’s own financial stability. However, this sacrifice could have potentially devastating effects. Fortunately, there are better ways to cope with the financial burden that comes with being part of the sandwich generation.

  • Before assuming the financial responsibility or college tuition, thoroughly research scholarships that may be available for your child.
  • Student loans. Most parents want to provide for their children’s education and do not like the idea of student loans. However, the truth is that your child has much more time to pay off loans than you will to replenish your savings or retirement accounts.
  • Multigenerational living. Young adult children may need financial help as they get on their feet. Instead of paying their bills, welcome them back into the house. This will allow them to save money, without relying on your financial help. Additionally, you may want to consider allowing your adult parent to move into the family house as well.
  • If assisted living and/or nursing home care is not necessary, it may be time to reassess where the senior adult is living. Downsizing to a smaller home or “mother-in-law” suite can allow for a profit to be made and for expenses to be minimized.
  • Government assistance. Look into any Medicare, Medicaid, available Veteran benefits, or other government assistance programs that the senior adult may qualify for or are already receiving.
  • Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to ask other family members to help with transportation or appointments that may affect your ability to work.
  • Set boundaries. Communicating clear boundaries and limitations of the financial support you can provide is one of the most important aspects. It is imperative that you do not sacrifice your own financial stability because you are part of the sandwich generation. Setting boundaries and effectively communicating will allow everyone to understand the limitations and work toward a similar goal together.
  • Planning for the future is imperative if you are part of the sandwich demographic and is most effective when under the guidance of an elder law attorney. Our elder attorneys are experienced and happy to help you minimize the financial burdens that come with being part of the sandwich generation. We invite you to  contact our Albany office today at (518) 452-6979 and schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters.
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