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Caregivers in the 'Sandwich Generation' Face Double Worries
Workers caring for minor children and elderly parents twice as likely to seek financial advice

By Stephen Miller  11/1/2010

Being a member of the of the working “sandwich generation”—those raising children and serving as a caregiver for older relatives—comes with a steep emotional and financial price tag. New findings from MetLife’s 8th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends study quantify some of the pressures and costs while pointing to the workplace as a source for assistance.

In the U.S., about one in five full-time employees is a caregiver for an older relative, and nearly three-quarters of these employees have children under the age of 18 as well.

The MetLife study found significant differences with regard to:

• Savings. 42 percent of employees with minor children but without elder caregiving responsibilities say they live paycheck to paycheck, compared to 64 percent of members of the working sandwich generation.

• Home ownership. 37 percent of working men and women with minor children are very concerned about being able to afford to buy a home, but that percentage doubles to 74 percent for those who are also caregivers.

• College costs. 55 percent of workers with minor children are very concerned about affording college, but that percentage climbs to 72 percent for those who are also caregivers.

• Family time. While 45 percent of working parents are very concerned about having more time to spend with their families, that percentage jumps to 72 percent for those who are simultaneously balancing parental and caregiving responsibilities.

“As the U.S. population ages, the percentage of employees who are caregivers will continue to grow, and they will be looking to employers for help and support,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

In fact, the study indicated that members of the sandwich generation are more likely to seek financial advice actively. Only 5 percent of this demographic group say they do not consult with anyone about their personal finances, compared to 30 percent of noncaregiving employees with children.

Workers with bookend family responsibilities are turning to multiple resources for financial information and advice, as shown below:

Pressured
Workers with bookend family responsibilities are turning to multiple resources for financial information and advice, as shown below:

 

Sandwich employees (caring for minor children and elderly parents)

Employees with minor children only(not caring for parents)

Financial advisors

45%

24%

Friends and relatives

39%

17%

Insurance agents

39%

  7%

Accountant

32%

  9%

HR department

26%

10%

Financial pubs/web sites

23%

13%

 

 

 

Are "very concerned" about their own long-term care needs in retirement

70%

40%

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute.

“There is a great appetite for information and financial advice among members of the sandwich generation,” added Timmermann. “Caregiving not only impacts one’s current lifestyle, but one’s view of the future,” as evidenced by the sandwich generation's elevated concerns about their own long-term care needs.

The 8th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2009. The employee sample comprised 1,305 interviews with full-time U.S. employees age 21 and older, at companies with a minimum of two employees.

Stephen Miller is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Related Articles:

Living Close to the Financial Edge, Americans Feel the Stress, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, August 2010

Health and Financial Concerns Take Toll on Workers' Productivity, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, April 2010

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