The Sandwiched Generation.....
How often have you heard people who are nearing retirement (and in some cases already retired) bemoaning that between themselves, their elderly parents and their adult children, there are simply insufficient funds to go around - let alone to fund a moderately comfortable retirement!!
It is fair to say that we, as post-WW2 children, have grown up in a "golden age" of opportunity - in broader education and career options, in real estate, travel and leisure pursuits, in medicine and healthcare and in wealth accumulation - all contributing to a longer and relatively comfortable retirement lifestyle. BUT, who are the elephants in the room?
Our parents (if they are still around were children of the Great Depression or soon thereafter) did not have this "wealth" experience and consequently largely depend on a lesser resource (often a government sponsored welfare pension) to fund their retirement and as we enter ours, they are are in the twilight of theirs!! Then there are our children, who have by default enjoyed the trappings of our relative success and now, as adults, have a lingering expectation of its continuation without the independent means in their early careers to provide it. So both generations look to us to provide and we feel morally obligated to do so....hence the expression: "the sandwiched generation" with all the wealth in our hands to provide for all three generations! It is really quite a dilemma when contemplating retirement and dear friends in Singapore tell me this is particularly so in Asian communities as well. I've no doubt this is a global issue, in western cultures at least.
There is no simple answer to this but there needs to be a balance and we as parents of this golden age find it particularly difficult to say "NO" to our kids. So reality needs to "kick in" and they need to realise we are no longer the "bank" they so easily accessed and readily enjoyed through their childhood and adolescence. Besides, we do them no favours by providing interest free loans which are more often than not forgiven, continually propping them up. But we would never abandon them or see them in hardship, but our support now comes in different ways.
It is a slightly different matter with Mum and/or Dad and certainly our obligations to them should not (within reason) be abandoned. - we should try to assist financially where and as we can but we should also be diligent to thoroughly research what aged care entitlements they have as elderly citizens in the community and make sure they are accessing every resource available to them be they government or charity based. By organising these resources, you responsibly mitigate your financial exposure and your parents feel they are less of a burden - so its a win, win situation.
Having done these things, it is so important you consider your own needs in the whole process. You need to provide for some uplifting lifetime events in the retirement you have worked so long and hard to enjoy!
No easy answers I'm afraid and with everyone's economic and personal family circumstances different it is impossible to have a ready formula, BUT remember:
- Learn to say "NO" to the adult kids
- think practically where Mum and/or Dad are concerned
- remember to include yourselves in the equation
...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....