Caught between kids and aging parents, the sandwich generation worries more than most Americans their age about how they'll afford their own care as they grow older, a new poll shows. But most aren't doing much to get ready.
Nearly 1 in 10 people age 40 and over are "sandwiched" — they're supporting a child while providing regular care for an older loved one, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Another 8 percent may join the ranks of double-caregivers in the next five years, citing declining health of an older relative or close friend.
Dueling responsibilities can make some days feel like a tug-of-war.
"If my mom needs something badly, I get pulled away from my kids a lot."Kamila Al-Najjar of Santa Rosa, California, a lawyer
With two children and self-described health advocate for her mother. She visits her mother's assisted living facility at least twice a week and checks in daily by phone, to oversee a list of illnesses.
"You're dealing with someone who is aging, toward the end of their life; then you have to deal with a teenager. I hear from my mom and daughter that I'm a nag. There's no winning in it."
Adding to the challenge, 40- and 50-somethings tend to be at the height of their careers — and need to hang onto their jobs despite difficulties of caregiving, said Susan Reinhard, who directs AARP's Public Policy Institute. Employer flexibility is a top issue as the population ages, she said.
"It's not just their own financial security, it's the financial security for their children and for the future."Susan Reinhard, who directs AARP's Public Policy Institute
After age 65, government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans at some point will need long-term care — from a relative, home aide, assisted living or nursing home.
Yet the AP-NORC Center poll found overall, most Americans 40 and older — 54 percent — have done little or no planning to get ready for this often pricey reality. Only a third reports setting aside money for those needs. That's even though Medicare doesn't pay for the most common types of long-term care, and a nursing home can cost more than $90,000 a year.
Drill down to the 9 percent of this age group who make up the sandwich generation, and their experience leaves them far more concerned about their own senior years.
About half worry about being able to pay for their future care needs or having to move into a nursing home, compared with just over a third of other adults, the poll found. Also, 44 percent of sandwichers fear leaving debts to family, compared with 28 percent of others polled.
But the poll found the sandwich generation no more likely than other middle-aged adults to be planning and saving, possibly because of time or resources.
Al-Najjar is glad her mother "saved all her life ... so she didn't have to stress out about stuff like that." Caring for her has changed how she spends and plans for the future.
"It's like a wake-up call."
There are "a lot of seniors in the United States that don't have that money."
The squeeze isn't ending as children grow up. Among currently sandwiched parents, 29 percent have adult children living at home, the poll found; others are providing adult children with financial assistance, meaning some are sandwiched even after their children leave the nest.
Another challenge: Finding services to help seniors live out their days at home. AARP recently opened an online "livability index" to rank communities on such factors as accessible housing and transit options.
And the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging runs an Eldercare Locator — at www.eldercare.gov and 1-800-677-1116 — to help people find local resources. Last year, the locator averaged more than 22,000 requests for assistance a month. A recent report found the top needs: Transportation, mostly to get to doctor appointments; in-home services, such as meals and personal care; and finding affordable housing or making age-friendly home modifications.
"People don't generally make these calls until they're in crisis."
"If mom and dad need this as they get older, you should prepare for that, too."Sandy Markwood, association CEO
Carroll Burnett of Whitesboro, Texas, cared for his 88-year-old father, who'd suffered a stroke, for a year before he died in March.
"I felt good that I could take care of him,"
who had help from his wife and one of his three grown children. But he's saving up: "I don't want any of my kids to go through what I did."Carroll Burnett, a retired tool and die maker
The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted by telephone April 7 to May 15 among a random national sample of 1,735 adults age 40 or older, with funding from the SCAN Foundation. Results for the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Associated Press writer Stacey A. Anderson and AP news survey specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
Ignoring long-term care and how your future need for care would impact those you love will place a tremendous burden on them and a financial burden on you. Many people think they will never need long-term care, yet many of us do, and families go into 'crisis mode' when dealing with their parent's lack of planning.
Long-Term Care Insurance has become a vital part of retirement planning to protect income and assets from the growing cost of long-term health care service and ease the stress and burdens placed on our families - usually our adult children.
The solution is awaiting you - but you must act before getting older, and your health and body start declining. Most people purchase Long-Term Care Insurance in their 50s. There are many affordable options to choose from that will safeguard assets and provide you with your choice of quality care options - giving your loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers.
Planning Tools and Resources on LTC NEWS
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Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
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Find Quality Caregivers and Long-Term Care Facilities
If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.
Take a moment and read -
Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim
LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
You can also get support in finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
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Benefits of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
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