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Sandwich generation stressed about meeting financial obligations

New study shows that two-thirds of those caring for both children and aging parents are concerned about meeting their own financial obligations

Roughly 66% of the so-called “sandwich generation” — those in the age group tasked with caring for both their children and aging parents — describe themselves as either “very stressed” or “somewhat stressed” when it comes to meeting their own financial obligations over the next decade, according to a survey conducted by online insurance marketplace Policygenius.

“[A]s expensive as raising children can be, over half of the sandwich generation (52%) expects supporting their parent(s) will cost just as much — or even more — than their kids over the next five years,” the survey results state.

Respondents were also asked about how they would expect to cover such costs, and 48% said they would take advantage of Medicare. However, the federal health insurance program generally does not cover long-term care (LTC) expenses.

In addition, 18% of respondents said they would have to cover the expenses themselves, while 19% said they were unsure of how to pay for both costs.

Nearly one-quarter of respondents (24%) also admitted that topics related to financial and health care needs — such as well as end-of-life care, a will or estate planning — have not been discussed with their aging parents. Nearly half of all respondents (49%) also said they do not have life insurance to help financially support their loved ones when they die.

“There’s enough complexity when it comes to the typical life goals that an average family would have, like saving for retirement or education for their children,” Tom Massie, a financial planner who specializes in the sandwich generation, told Policygenius. “[T]here’s a lot of stress and anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with it.”

Less than a third (29%) of respondents said they were planning on taking care of their parents through LTC insurance, while 30% said they would use Medicaid, the federal and state health system for low-income individuals. However, Medicaid has income restrictions regarding access to its services.

“For example, in North Carolina the monthly income limit for someone 65 or older [to] receive Medicaid is only $1,133 — and you can have no more than $2,000 in assets, not counting your home, car, furniture, clothing, and jewelry,” the survey results state.

Reverse mortgage professionals in recent years have forged referral partnerships with LTC-oriented organizations, and some financial planners and commentators have noted that reverse mortgages can be an alternative to LTC insurance for certain clients.

Another increasingly popular option for lowering care costs has been the use of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and one reverse mortgage professional recently told RMD that the product could fund the construction of such a unit.

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