The Cost of Caring: Financing The Sandwich Generation
Money is something that often goes unspoken about among families and friends. However, if you are a member of the Sandwich Generation, you may find yourself under some significant financial strain. As a Jinga, you are caring for your elderly parents while also supporting your children. Often this caring and support can materialize as financing a care home or at home help, as well as helping out your children with things like mortgage or rent payments, childcare or groceries/bills.
In Ireland, Independent.ie reported that “having a person cared for in a residential home can cost between €50,000 and €80,000 in nursing home fees and associated medical care charges.” (2017). That same report spoke to Eileen Devereux of Taxback.ie who stated that "We have found that although many people struggle to pay all the associated costs, not everyone is aware of the reliefs and entitlements that already exist that could save them tens of thousands a year.” In the UK, care homes can cost up to £600 whilst nursing homes can cost £800 per week (Age UK). Financial support is means tested, which means most of the Sandwich Generation will end up contributing something to their parents care.
Childcare can also cause a financial strain on parents, meaning parents of the Sandwich Generation may be asked to chip in or fully pay for their grandchildren’s care. In Ireland in 2018, the average cost of childcare was €622.44 per month (Irish Times). Similarly, members of the Sandwich Generation who are retired may take on the role of caring for the child in their own home. This can also lead to a financial strain, as well as emotional and/or physical strain.
How To Cope
Talk About Finances
As aforementioned, money can be an awkward subject. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are/may have to look after your elderly parents it is important to know where you stand. Sit down with your parents, your partner, and any siblings and establish a plan.
Some things to consider:
How much money can your parents contribute to their care? Look at investments and pensions.
Are your parents entitled to any benefits or support from the State when it comes to their care?
Who has Power of Attorney?
Do your parents have any insurance policies that can be cashed in?
It may seem odd to suggest to save when you are the main support for both your parents and children, however neglecting your own pension or retirement fund is a mistake you do not want to make. Yes, your children may be likely to pay you back for all your support over the years, or you might inherit some property or cash from your parents, but it’s not something to depend on.
Arrange a meeting with your bank or a financial advisor and seek help on ensuring you and your partners future is secure.
Creating a budget, and sticking to it, can be a vital part of being able to support your parents or children. You might have to make some sacrifices like cutting out a yearly holiday abroad, or getting rid of any extras on your TV plan like movies or sports channels.
If you are taking your parent(s) in, they can contribute to bills and groceries instead of shelling out for nursing homes or carers. If you have teens, a weekend or summer job can help take some of the burden off you supporting them. Similarly if your adult children who live at home have a job, ask if they could contribute to the household in a small way rather than paying expensive rent.
Realize You Can’t Do Everything
The obligation to look after those who raised you and cared for you growing up can be overwhelming. Likewise, you’ll always feel a need to protect and support your kids no matter how old they are. However, working, caring, and trying to manage a household can lead to you being spread far too thin. A way to avoid this can be to realize you can’t do everything, and ask for some help around the house.
If your children can’t find work and you are financially supporting them as well as giving them a place to live, ask if they could contribute to the upkeep of the house, cook dinner, or help care for their grandparents.
Ask For Help If Needs Be
Speaking of asking for help...Should you find yourself supporting your parents or children and it is starting to take a toll, never be ashamed to ask for financial help. If you have siblings, they should be contributing to your parents care. Speak to them and try to organize a financial plan.
Older generations can be stubborn when it comes to leaving property or money behind. However, should you need support in financing their care, explain to them that the rational decision would be to use their money or assets to fund their nursing home or private care.
If it’s your child(ren) you are supporting, ask your other children or your siblings if they could help you out.