sandwich generation

Are you a member of the ‘sandwich generation’? Research published by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies has shown that the sandwich generation is becoming one of the hardest pressed generations, as people aged 45-60 are increasingly looking after both their aging parents and their adult children.

The study found that there are 2.4 million people sandwiched between providing support to an older adult with disabilities or chronic illnesses who also have children to care for too.

As well as an increase in people caring for their parents, the situation is aggravated by the fact that rising property prices and tuition fees are also forcing more and more children to stay in – or move back to – the family home.

Below, we take a look at the increasing pressures on the ‘sandwich generation’ and look at a couple of ways that you can help plan for this eventuality.

Almost half of the sandwich generation say the financial pressure is ‘challenging’

Millions of people are stuck in the ‘sandwich generation’ – financially supporting both their elderly parents and adult children.

A study*  found that middle-aged parents are increasingly having to balance working full-time while spending an extra 19 hours every week caring for their older relatives. A third of people also pay towards their parents’ care, with the average person spending £1,367 supporting aging relatives.

According to the survey, around a third of the sandwich generation pay for medical care, just under a quarter help fund home renovations for loved ones, and more than one in ten are helping to pay tuition fees.

The study also found that parents have to support their children for longer and that the cost of doing so – £6,411 a year – is almost twice the cost of raising a young child – £3,841 a year.

Almost half of the sandwich generation say the financial pressure is ‘challenging’, while a quarter have had to take out a loan to cope. The Daily Mail reports that thousands of people ‘are taking on more hours and even starting second jobs as they struggle to afford the monumental costs.’

Ways that you can alleviate the financial pressure

If you are struggling to support both older relatives and your adult children, there are some steps that you can take to help you alleviate the pressure.

  1. Plan ahead – Start a savings plan

Even if you’re not in the ‘sandwich generation’ yet, you could be in the future. This is why planning is important and putting away an amount of money every month can help you to build up a lump sum. ISAs offer a tax-efficient way of saving, and can be a good way to squirrel away some money on a regular basis for your future.

If you want to put some money aside for your children – perhaps for their tuition fees or as the deposit for a first home – then there are specific child savings plans designed to help build up a lump sum in a tax-efficient way, such as a Junior ISA.

This child savings plan lets you open an account for any child, and to vary your premiums as your circumstances change.

  1. Consider over 50s life insurance

If you want to ensure that a loved one has a lump sum available to cover their funeral and associated expenses when they die, you could encourage them to open an over 50s life insurance plan.

Over 50s life insurance is a monthly life insurance plan for those aged 50 to 80. It aims to provide the peace of mind that a guaranteed tax-free lump sum will be provided on death to the plan holder’s loved ones. The lump sum doesn’t have to go towards a funeral – it can also be used to deal with other related expenses.

  1. Don’t be afraid to seek advice and ask for help

Caring for both a parent and a child can take both a mental and physical toll. So, if you are stressed, experiencing any of the signs of depression or your health is suffering, you should seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Caregivers can sometimes avoid talking through their problems, especially the mixed or conflicted emotions they may feel about their responsibilities. Your own health can also suffer, and it’s important to seek medical advice to make sure you get plenty of sleep, some physical exercise and the proper nutrition.

It can also be beneficial to seek help with your caregiving responsibilities. For example, you can ask extended family to help with childcare or seek out resources in your community to give you a break in caring for your older relatives.

We can help with savings and insurance

For more information, get in touch with Shepherds Friendly today.