‘Sandwich’ generation getting squeezed
First we had the “me” generation, then generation “X,” and now the “sandwich” generation with more than enough to worry about.
“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,” Lauran Neergaard, a medical reporter for The Associated Press, recently wrote.
Almost one in 10 Americans age 40 and older are in the “sandwich” category, Neergaard reported. They’re supporting a child while providing regular care for an older loved one, according to the poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Worse, another 8 percent may become doublecaregivers in the next five years because of declining health of an older relative or close friend.
Most disturbing, the poll found a majority of Americans 40 and older — 54 percent — have done almost no planning to be ready for longterm care.
The AP poll “found the sandwich generation no more likely than other middle-aged adults to be planning and saving, possibly because of time or resources,” Neergaard reported.
That’s despite government figures suggesting that at age 65, almost seven in 10 Americans will need long-term care — from a relative, home aide, assisted living or nursing home.
Only a third of those polled said they are setting aside money for care.
“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,” Neergaard reported.
The writer relayed comments from a California lawyer, a mother of two children. Her elderly mother is in an assisted living facility that the lawyer visits twice weekly and checks in daily by phone.
“If my mom needs something badly, I get pulled away from my kids a lot,” she said, describing days that “feel like a tug-of-war.”
“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,” she said.
Another major factor: “The squeeze isn’t ending as children grow up,” Neergaard reported. “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.”
Meanwhile, many in the sandwich generation must hang onto their jobs and achieve financial security despite caregiving demands.
The elderly need mostly “transportation, usually to get to doctor appointments; in-home services, such as meals and personal care; and finding affordable housing or making age-friendly home modifications,” according to a recent report.
And finding services to help the elderly live out their days at home isn’t easy. AARP offers a “livability index” and the National Association for Area Agencies runs an Eldercare Locator to help people find local resources. The locator can be reached at www.eldercare.gov and 1-800677-1116.
People don’t generally call the locator “until they’re in crisis,” said the association’s CEO, Sandy Markwood.
But last year, the locator got an average of more than 22,000 requests a month, which suggests just how much worry weighs down on the sandwich generation.