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The Sandwich Generation
Old 01-31-2013, 11:46 AM   #1
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The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation: Rising Financial Burdens for Middle-Aged Americans

The Sandwich Generation | Pew Social & Demographic Trends

"Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.

When survey respondents were asked if adult children have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to an elderly parent in need, fully 75% say yes, they do. Only 23% say this is not an adult child’s responsibility. By contrast, only about half of all respondents (52%) say parents have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to a grown child if he or she needs it. Some 44% say parents do not have a responsibility to do this.

However, the survey suggests that adults in the sandwich generation are just as happy with their lives overall as are other adults. "

How many in this ER community are in the sandwich generation, and contribute substantively to BOTH the parents and grown children? Do you agree with the findings of the Pew study?
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:54 AM   #2
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I fit into all of the above as well as supporting a 30 y/o wife. However, If you ask this question again in a year (2014), I will be 60 and will not be able to respond in the affirmative.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:08 PM   #3
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I'm in that sandwich generation but have no kids and my mom is doing just fine. If my mom needed support I would help to a certain point but I can only do so much. My wife would probably want to help her parents much more but that's their culture.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:20 PM   #4
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My wife would probably want to help her parents much more but that's their culture.
Culture, and family culture, make a big difference in how we handle these matters. In my family, it is almost unheard of for a parent or grown child to ask for help. But, if a parent or grown child asked for help, we would never refuse.

So, I have never had to give financial assistance to a parent or grown child*. But the other side of that coin is that I never got any help for anything as a grown child, even to pay for college, and I will not ask for any help when I am older.

*other than paying tuition, books, and $500/month partial living expenses for my daughter when she was in college
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:46 PM   #5
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Pour mustard on my head- I'm sandwiched.

I entered parenting later in life (was 39 and 41 when I had my boys) DH is 10 years older than me. So here I am - looking at balancing ER goals, college funding goals, and dealing with eldercare issues with my in-laws. I have a 10 year old, a 12 year old, and in-laws in crisis who are 86 and 89 years old.

My parents died in the last decade (fortunately they were solvent and lucid till the end.)
But my husbands parents are in need. So far we built a granny flat to help with caregivier needs for them. (FIL is in a wheelchair, MIL doesn't believe in nursing homes or in home help.)

She didn't like living in CA, so she moved them back to where they own a home.

(Fortunately - this frees up the nice little cottage as a rental income stream - helping ER budgets.)

We've already obtained emergency guardianship of FIL - because MIL refused to put him in a home and fired the in-home aides. DH is going for permanent guardianship of BOTH parents later this month. 2 of 3 "experts" (doctor and social worker) agree that MIL has dementia. We're still waiting on the psychologist report. And there is definitely expense associated with all this.

It's stressful. No question about that. Juggling kids needs, parents needs, and trying to navigate family politics as an in-law.

One advantage to being sandwiched... I felt we gave our kids a good role model when we actively helped with caregiving of their grandparents. Having grandparents live in a cottage in our back yard gave them lots of access - but also showed them that family takes care of family. A value I want to pass on to the boys.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:51 PM   #6
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I'm squarely in that demographic. DW and I have a 21 year-old son with more college to go and an 18 year-old son heading to college this coming Fall. Thay both have been full-blown teenage boys, and I will leave it to your imagination to fill in the blanks in terms of the challenges they have presented for DW and I.

We are blessed to have all four parents still in our lives - mine 89 and 86, DW's 83 and 80. They are getting needy. As I type, I am "babysitting" the in-laws while their primary caregiver (DW's sister) is out of town for a few days.

Both sets of parents are in good shape financially (so far). Honestly, they are consuming all the time we can give them though. Between teenagers and and needy elderly parents, DW and I sometimes don't feel like there is enough oxygen in the room, so to speak.........
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:44 PM   #7
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I just finished this process with the departure of my 87 year old mother. Tried everything I could in the last few years to get her to move in with DW and me. Even though we all get along great she would not do it. Thankfully, we raise two independent and successful children that have not been much of a burden once they flew away from the nest. Had that not been the case it would have been MUCH HARDER for us to accept a boomerang child than to care for a frail parent.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:09 PM   #8
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We avoided this, but not by much. Neither my wife's folks nor mine were in great financial shape, we could have been supporting either. But in all cases their money lasted longer than they did.

I was visiting my Mom on a daily basis for a number of years (and my visits were one reason that her financial resources lasted). We had one kid living at home and one in college at the time.

But, we're now partially supporting one of our children. As heeyy_joe says, that's "MUCH HARDER" emotionally than supporting parents.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:13 PM   #9
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We're in the sandwich.

88 yr old MIL is living on $14k SS and withdrawals from a reverse mortgage and requires some (so far) small amounts of financial aid. Plus DW spends a few hours a week driving her to appointments, getting groceries, etc.

DS and his DW both have good jobs as engineers. But their oldest (of three) child has cerebral palsy. DW, a retired special ed teacher, tutors him 4 days a week and acts as his advocate in dealings with the school district. I'm funding a substantial trust to help in the probable eventuality he is never able to support himself.

These things are a bit of a challenge at times but we're glad to do it. No one has ever asked us for help. Helping and team work are just part of our family culture. There have been a few disagreements as to the best approach to get everything done but generally I'm pleased with the extent to which everyone is pulling together.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:16 PM   #10
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Sandwiched but determined to RE anyway. We bought our retirement home early last year in our retirement destination and moved MIL into it. We will join her when I retire from my job this summer and she will stay with us. Four months after that DD boomeranged and is with us and will soon give us our first grandchild and will have to stay with us while she works to regain her independence. DS is doing well in college but lives at home with us to save on room and board.

Wow, not how I envisioned I would enter ER! But, it offers many other opportunities to experience. I read on this site a long time ago, and can't remember where, a post that stated that ER doesn't save you from the ups and downs of life, you just don't have to go to work while you experience them. I think that is great perspective, and I'll embrace ER as I embrace my expanded family -- and as it turns out, my retirement home isn't too big after all!
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:26 PM   #11
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As my net worth increases my acceptance of the idea that my kids could live at home beyond college or be boomerang kids also increases. I hope that they do not pick up on this because do not think it would be good for them to know this is an option. My kids are pre-teen so I guess it may be a little early to worry about it. I expect to have to help my mom out financially one day and I am OK with that too.

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Old 01-31-2013, 05:22 PM   #12
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Pour mustard on my head- I'm sandwiched.



Me too ! I have an elderly Mother (96) who I have been helping financially & physically for years . More financial since we live far apart . I also have an adult child who only needed my help when her husband was laid off while she was not working . I could not sit back and not offer to help when I have so much and I do not expect anything in return.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:23 PM   #13
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Just a suggestion for any who might benefit from it:

After my father died (in his late 70s), my mother (five years older than he was) decided she no longer had the energy to manager her own affairs, but still wanted independence.

She was still sharp mentally, just tired physically. So she gave me durable power of attorney over everything and put all her accounts in joint ownership with me (JTWROS).

For the rest of her life, she enjoyed not having to deal with any financial matters -- just told me what she wanted and told me to take care of it. She kept one credit card for restaurants and the like, but never saw a bill. When she wanted cash, she just asked me for whatever amount she wanted.

Since I had total control, I invested her money prudently and it was enough to cover her expenses until she died, fifteen years later.

The arrangement worked well. I had a little more work than merely managing my own finances, but I was spared the worry about what would become of hers.

Assuming you are on good terms with your parent(s), I think this is something you might consider bringing up at the right time. In my case, it was totally my mother's idea -- she just felt comfortable turning control over to me.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:36 PM   #14
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My parents were in their 40's when I was born. They both had passed on by the time I was 42. I have one daughter from a divorce, who is now 30. She's been on her own since 22.

I'm now 60, and see no possible way I'll be responsible for anyone in the future, other than myself.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:21 PM   #15
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Pour mustard on my head- I'm sandwiched.
Love your sense of humor in a tough situation! I couldn't help but quote you and post this Garfield image, complete with mustard....
Attached Images
File Type: gif Sandwich.gif (24.8 KB, 210 views)
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:06 AM   #16
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We have two young children and my wife provides support to her parents because it is part of the culture out here. Fortunately, my parents do not require any support ( and would probably be shocked if I offered any) but if they ever needed support, I would have no hesitation in providing it.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:00 AM   #17
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I'm 52 with a 7 year old son. My mother is 71, owns her own home outright and lives on SS with a modest reserve in savings.

So I guess I'm a sandwich.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:49 AM   #18
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I've got 2 kids in college. This is quite expensive - books alone cost about $500 per semester per kid - but they are both working hard and getting good grades. It's nice to see them develop.
Fortunately, my Mom is OK monetarily. Having to help her along with the college and living expenses would be a problem.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:27 AM   #19
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I am a little confused by the term "sandwich generation". Isn't it the nature of human biology that unless we have abstained or been prevented from procreating, we are all members of a sandwich generation?

Even if we eventually lay the old ones down on the river bank for the crocodiles and hyenas to eat, there will be some period while we are effective producers, and our children and parents not so much.

Ha
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:05 PM   #20
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I am a little confused by the term "sandwich generation". Isn't it the nature of human biology that unless we have abstained or been prevented from procreating, we are all members of a sandwich generation?

Even if we eventually lay the old ones down on the river bank for the crocodiles and hyenas to eat, there will be some period while we are effective producers, and our children and parents not so much.

Ha
From the poll
"the financial burdens associated with caring for multiple generations of family members are mounting. The increased pressure is coming primarily from grown children rather than aging parents."

The economic state from the last few years produced a fair number of young people who remained unemployed after finishing college, and might be on the way to become unemployable, and have to return to live at home and be supported by their parents. (The much written about "Lost Generation" in Europe, for instance) That, along with a large number of retiring baby boomers with little retirement saving, put pressure on the "sandwich" generation from both ends. And many of the working middle aged "sandwiched" folks are facing stagnating wages and job insecurity themselves. At least the magnitude of the problem is something society have not quite faced before.
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