Could downsizing be one solution to the ‘sandwich generation’ challenge?

Blog posted

7th March 2016

THE world in which we live is ever-changing.  Healthcare in the developed world is much better and people are living longer as a result.  That means pressure on public services; housing; and care services ultimately.

But there is also another consequence of this new found longevity – and it is often referred to as ‘The Sandwich Generation’ – the generation of 40-60-year-olds who now have the responsibility of their maturing children and their ageing parents.

At the very time in life when the kids fly the nest and the parents would almost certainly have passed away – creating a ‘golden time’ to enjoy the spoils of your hard working life – more and more people are finding themselves with the dual responsibility of children and ageing parents.

The demands can be quite devastating.  Both emotional and financial pressures can lead to stress at the very time in your life when most of your worries should be behind you.

In America – according to the Pew Research Centre – over one in eight Americans aged between 40 and 60 is raising a child and caring for a parent in some form or another.  On that same continent the life expectancy has increased from 47 to 76 between 1900 and 2000 – and it is continually moving upwards.

As people live healthier and ultimately longer, they tend to put off the decision to move or seek care support until much later in life – often when it is almost too late.  That increases the burden on their children to ‘keep an eye on them’ or in some cases care for them.

 

Everyone wants to remain as independent as possible as long as possible, which again tends to dissuade ageing people from proactively moving house or into a more care orientated environment.

Sadly, as mobility worsens, the big old rambling family property tends to require seemingly endless maintenance and upkeep which proves costly and time consuming.  It can become another burden on the ‘sandwich generation’.

At Retirement Villages we are noticing more and more people choosing to make that move while they are still healthy – choosing to buy into an age-exclusive retirement village with on-site care support available, should it be required in later life.  Living close to like-minded people and surrounded by staff always keeping an eye out for you – there is peace of mind for both residents and their ‘sandwich generation’ children.  Read about what prompted some of our residents to downsize and buy a home in one of our villages.

Downsizing can however be a challenging experience but it makes financial sense.  It enables access to the equity in your old family home which can help fund your retirement lifestyle going forward – relieving some of the pressure on your nearest and dearest.

It doesn’t resolve the issues associated with the sandwich generation but it makes ageing parents feel less reliant on their children for day to day support but without surrendering their independence in retirement.  It also delivers an element of peace of mind, knowing that the maintenance chores associated with house ownership are managed including gardening and external maintenance.

Continuing Care has been an increasingly popular offering from retirement providers – essentially delivering increasing levels of support as and when it is needed.  For those who prefer and are able to fund a private retirement lifestyle, this can be an effective option for parents and their ‘sandwich generation’ children.

 

Sarah Burgess

Managing Director, RV Property Holdings Ltd