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Addressing the Cost of Care with the Sandwich Generation
During the festive season where food, drink and merriness abound, it’s sometimes easy to forget that this time of year can be challenging for many of us. Specifically, we want to talk about those of us who are feeling the strain of caring for elderly parents.
Research by VitalityLife shows that 40% of Brits either expect to, or already do support their elderly parents financially in later life. Costs ramp up quickly once you factor in care home fees, home help and/or home modifications. The findings showed that care costs can amount up to £100,000 during their lifetime.
Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing
This burden is falling especially hard on the so-called sandwich generation (generally those aged 35 to 55). The phrase was coined by social worker Dorothy Miller in the early 1980s to refer to those who find themselves raising their young children and supporting their ageing parents at the same time.
With such a huge amount of pressure on both time and energy, this generation are struggling to juggle their responsibilities and continually battling feelings of guilt.
A report from the Centre for Policy on Ageing states that 66% of sandwich generation carers say this pressure has affected their physical health, while 70% admit that it has impacted their mental wellbeing.
Research and trends suggest that this problem is only set to get more serious with increased life expectancy and delays in starting a family. Higher prevalence of conditions such as dementia is also factor with the Alzheimer’s Society predicting that two million people will have dementia by 2051.
Preparing for the Unknown
The industry certainly needs to address this issue with appropriate cover but it’s all about knowing where to start. If you’re concerned about a parent struggling with the early stages of dementia or simply a parent who is elderly, it’s important that you take steps as soon as possible to protect their finances.
This means sitting down to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation to discuss how to move forward in the event of ill health when parents are unable to make their decisions in sound mind.
You may discuss their will, applying for Lasting Power of Attorney, how to arrange paying bills and care arrangements, either at a facility or in their own home. You might also talk about your parents downsizing their property if this will ease the strain both financially and practically.
The Business Argument
When we look at the issue from the other side of the coin, the emotional stress and time demands placed on the sandwich generation have an impact on business sustainability with higher absenteeism and a loss in productivity due to distracted employees.
In some cases, the employee may even give up their job in order to care for a parent full-time. This means lost wages and lost career opportunities, as well as the need for the family to adjust to receiving just one income. It also means that those employers who have effective cover in place can avoid taking a serious hit to their bottom line.
Due to the inevitable fact that some sandwich generation employees will feel overwhelmed by the situation and take time off to seek support with mental or physical health issues, there are a number of protection avenues employers can take.
Group income protection is one of the most effective choices. With mental health issues one of the two biggest causes of workplace absenteeism (alongside musculoskeletal problems), private medical insurance may also prove to be a great return on investment.
Whatever type of protection policy employers choose to include in their employee benefits package, proactive communications are essential. This means that employees will feel confident and supported in whatever decision they choose to make for the sake of their health. It also means employees will receive treatment more quickly in order to expedite their return to work.
Choosing your Protection Policies
When we return to look at the situation from the individual perspective, financial planning solutions and protection policies are starting to adapt in order to help affected parties prepare for the future.
If you are part of the sandwich generation, it’s essential to protect your own financial situation in order to avoid greater problems later down the line.
You will need to consider the cost of care for your parents as outlined above as well as the “hidden” costs that come with potentially having to give up your job.
You also need to consider costs associated with bringing up your children, including the basics (food, clothing, higher household bills) as well as school fees, extra-curricular activities and further education costs.
There are many tax-efficient savings vehicles available such as your workplace pension scheme, cash ISAs and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). You can also consider working together with your parents to reduce your inheritance tax liability, through gifts or other measures.
This is important to as it means you are taking a proactive instead of reactive attitude to your financial planning in order to gain the highest value and create the strongest safety net.
For more information on a comprehensive range of savings and investments vehicles, contact our specialist team at Vintage Wealth Management on 020 8371 3111 or email email@example.com
For support with creating an effective benefits package to support sandwich generation employees in their time of need, contact our team at Vintage Corporate on 020 8371 5232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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