Financial Challenges for the Sandwich Generation

Written by Preet Banerjee

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

The "Sandwich Generation," which refers to people who are financially responsible for themselves, their children, and their parents as well, has its own unique set of challenges.

Canadians are starting families later in life, and we're living longer. Being responsible for multiple generations in a family might become the norm for many going forward. Assisted living planning, home care vs. nursing home are important questions that could come into play.

Finding A Compromise Between Your Needs and the Needs of Others

Of course, there will be a financial strain. You still have to "pay yourself first" to save for your own long-term goals, but you also have to think about "paying for others second" before you can allocate the rest of your budget. That will put a squeeze on your lifestyle spending.

When it comes to the emotional dynamics of caring for aging parents, a comprising approach to caregiving would balance a variety of different approaches, says Dr. Ajmal Razmy, Service Medical Director of Trillium Health Partners' Acute Care Mental Health Program in Mississauga, Ontario.

Financial Planning is a Balancing Act

"The sandwich generation has the heavy duty of balancing two often-conflicting caregiver roles," says Dr. Razmy. "We generally do remarkably well when in this situation, however the stress that can be felt has implications for all parties involved."

  • It's important to discuss the situation with any siblings and any other close family members. Some may be able to contribute financially, and others may be willing to contribute their time to help with care.
  • Because there can be a large income or wealth differential between siblings, and because not everyone lives in the same neighbourhood, city, or even country, it's important to weigh in all ways in which family members can contribute.
  • Your financial planning should also consider whether future shared living arrangements make sense. It may make sense to buy a larger home in that case.
  • If your parents or other family members are unable to contribute financially, that might necessitate moving to a less expensive area or finding ways to trim other expenses.

Conclusion

With people starting families later and living longer, more and more people are going to be "sandwiched." The financial and emotional stress of being in this position can impact a family dynamic, so it's important to talk and not put yourself in a position where your own finances are in trouble because you're carrying too many responsibilities.

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