Are You Going to Get Sandwiched?

We are not discussing the viral social media argument from earlier this year on whether a hotdog is a sandwich or not. (A hotdog is a hoagie or sub, which is a sandwich…like a meatball sandwich.) So that’s settled. 😊

What we are discussing today is much more financially serious.

What is the sandwich generation?

The Sandwich Generation is a group of people who are simultaneously caring for their elderly parents and their own children under age 18. Studies show that “about one in seven Americans between the ages of 40 and 60 are simultaneously providing some financial assistance to both a child and a parent.”1

This phenomenon has become more prevalent today for two main reasons: increased life expectancy and people starting their families later in life.

Sandwich GenerationWhy is it such a problem?

Raising a family in the prime earning years of your career and managing your own personal issues is enough to keep your plate full. When you add the responsibility of caring for one or both elderly parents, there is a significant emotional and financial burden added to your everyday life.

Your parents could have multiple needs anywhere from medications, medical services and appointments, or activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, toileting, or getting dressed. While many people want to give back and be there to take care of their loved ones who raised them, there can be significant emotional and financial stress if there isn’t a plan in place.      

Having an uncomfortable conversation

If you live to be 65, there’s a 70% chance you’ll eventually need some type of long-term care which include nursing homes, adult day care facilities, assisted living facilities, hospice, or in-home nurses2.

After clients understand this stat, the two comments we hear most often are: I wonder if my parents have a plan in place and when should I be thinking about doing it?

For your personal plan, it’s purely situational and the timing must be right. As for you parents, this could be an incredibly difficult discussion to have with them.

Here are 3 potential ways to bring it up with them:

#1. Ask them if they are familiar with the term sandwich generation

Simply by asking, it could create an open dialog about what their plan is if they can’t care for themselves when they become older. Many may joke that they expect you to take care of them and not realize the shift of having kids later in life than they did.

#2. Ask your parents if they have a financial plan

Obviously, this is direct. However, they may confuse their investment person to be their financial advisor or planner. A planner focuses on saving to and through retirement, and this may not be the case with who they are currently working with. A financial planner will look at all aspects of their finances including their income streams in retirement and the best way to protect and optimize it. A planner can help parents from relying on their children when additional assistance is needed.

#3. Refer your parents to your financial advisor to create a plan…if you have one

You want to help your parents live well and not have to sacrifice their retirement savings or rely on you and your siblings to cover the cost of their care. Your financial advisor can help you paint the picture of the burden it could have on you and ask if they have the appropriate legal documents in place like wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents that are needed to help administer care. This nudge often helps them get all precautions in order.

I recommend reaching out to your financial advisor to see how to position them to your parents. Your parents may be hesitant if your advisor just starts calling out of the blue.

Don’t get derailed

Being sandwiched between the care of children and parents can derail your current and future financial stability. No parent wants to be a burden on their children. While uncomfortable, having a conversation now can make the difference when more difficult decisions have to be made in the future.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Clinton B. Brady is an Insurance Agent of NM and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company and a Registered Representative of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (securities), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and member FINRA and SIPC. Representative of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® a subsidiary of NM and federal savings bank.


1: Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, The Sandwich Generation,


2: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LongTermCare.gov, Who needs

Care? https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/who-needs-care.html

Special thanks to our partner, Clint Brady, for sharing this info with us! Clint is a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual. He is an advocate for families and business owners on creating a path to financial independence

Click here for a free, no obligation consultation with Clint.


Interested in learning more? Read more Financial Advising posts on Cedar Rapids Moms.

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