BABY BOOMERS SUPPORT AGING PARENTS

Jun 3rd, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

The world of finances for senior citizens is changing rapidly.  Due to strained economics, many of us find ourselves running out of money we saved for retirement. It’s not what we planned.  But it’s what is happening now.  And it doesn’t help to read about politicians trying to make changes in our lifelines, Social Security and Medicare.  They tell us we need to participate in making sacrifices.  That’s easy for them to say when they have renewable income.  We don’t.  Our income is fixed, and when our retirement savings are gone, all we have left is Social Security.

Some recent research supports this bleak picture. Ameriprise Financial polled three generations recently: affluent baby boomers, and parents and adult children of baby boomers.  The study is called Money Across Generations, and it revealed some interesting findings:

  • Baby Boomers are making fewer major purchases for themselves
  • Baby Boomers are saving less in retirement accounts
  • more Baby Boomers are supporting their adult children and grandchildren
  • more Baby Boomers are supporting their aging parents

Baby Boomers Support Aging Parents

It’s this last point that got our attention.  Fifty-eight percent of Baby Boomers reported helping aging parents with cooking, laundry, transportation and home maintenance.  The financial support includes paying for groceries, medical expenses and utility bills.

Boomers are also supporting their adult children.  Ninety-three percent of Boomers in the study report having helped their adult children pay for insurance, rent, utilities, credit card debt, housing, car purchases, and college tuition and loans.

The study revealed very interesting information about Baby Boomers feelings about saving money for retirement versus helping aging parents and adult children.  For example, sixty-eight percent of the subjects said they would save for retirement before helping their adult children financially; but they would take their retirement savings to help their aging parents with long-term care insurance.

AARP Bulletin suggests remembering the airplane oxygen mask analogy:  “You must take care of your own mask (financial needs) before you can be able to help out the person sitting next to you (family).”



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  1. [...] The feature article this week on SCJ’s Senior Finance page deals with a piece of research from Ameriprise Financial about Baby Boomers supporting their aging parents. The research addressed issues of support for the GEN X and Y groups as well.  The piece caught our attention because we have heard from so many friends and family about their experiences supporting their elderly parents and/or their adult children and/or their adult grandchildren.  It seems as though the economic issues are hitting every generation, and Baby Boomers are getting caught in the middle.// A recent discussion in which we were involved highlighted experiences senior couples had providing financial assistance to their adult children. Several couples were helping their adult children with mortgage payments.  Some had paid off college student loans for their kids.  Still others purchased vehicles for their adult children and grandchildren.  The discussion was both comforting with realizing the common experiences we were having, and startling that we were all going through essentially the same family issues. [...]

  2. [...] word to Baby Boomers planning for retirement is this: Be sure you plan carefully for retirement needs and expenses, and then add a minimum of 10 percent to your budget for those unexpected and [...]

  3. [...] http://www.seniorcitizenjournal.com/senior-finances-articles/baby-boomers-support-aging-parents/ [...]

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