‘Sand­wich’ gen­er­a­tion get­ting squeezed

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

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.

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