Caught between kids and aging parents, the sandwich generation worries more than most Americans their age about how they'll afford their own care as they grow older. But most aren't doing much to get ready.
Nearly 1 in 10 people age 40 and over are "sandwiched" -- they're supporting a child while providing regular care for an older loved one.
Another 8 percent may join the ranks of double-caregivers in the next five years, citing declining health of an older relative or close friend.
Dueling responsibilities can make some days feel like a tug-of-war.
Adding to the challenge, 40- and 50-somethings tend to be at the height of their careers -- and need to hang onto their jobs despite difficulties of caregiving. Employer flexibility is a top issue as the population ages.
"It's not just their own financial security, it's the financial security for their children and for the future."
After age 65, government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans at some point will need long-term care -- from a relative, home aide, assisted living or nursing home.
Yet the poll found overall, most Americans 40 and older – 54% -- have done little or no planning to get ready for this reality. Only a third reports setting aside money for those needs. That's even though Medicare doesn't pay for the most common types of long-term care, and a nursing home can cost more than $90,000 a year.
Drill down to the 9 percent of this age group who make up the sandwich generation, and their experience leaves them far more concerned about their own senior years.
About half worry about being able to pay for their future care needs or having to move into a nursing home, compared with just over a third of other adults, the poll found. Also, 44 percent of sandwichers fear leaving debts to family, compared with 28 percent of others polled.
But the poll found the sandwich generation no more likely than other middle-aged adults to be planning and saving, possibly because of time or resources.
The squeeze isn't ending as children grow up. Among currently sandwiched parents, 29 percent have adult children living at home; others are providing adult children with financial assistance, meaning some are sandwiched even after their children leave the nest.
Another challenge: Finding services to help seniors live out their days at home. An online "livability index" ranks communities on such factors as accessible housing and transit options.
And the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging runs an Eldercare Locator to help people find local resources. Last year, the locator averaged more than 22,000 requests for assistance a month.
A recent report found the top needs: transportation, mostly to get to doctor appointments; in-home services, such as meals and personal care; and finding affordable senior housing or making age-friendly home modifications.
For more information on long-term care and assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.