As we continue to live longer, more people over the age of 50 have parents or relatives to care for when retirement is looming. The sad truth is the UK pension and care systems are both pushed to their limits and retired children often have to fill the gaping cracks by dipping into their own savings or pension.
It’s a problem eight out of 10 women find more difficult than divorce, according to an ITV report, when the only alternative is state care. And it’s women who are most likely to fall into the category of unpaid carers, leaving nearly six million people in Britain trying to cope with family life.
Dilemma of the ‘sandwich generation’
This is the dilemma of the so-called ‘sandwich generation,’ according to retirement planning company Retiready – where people aged between 40-60 have to care for elderly parents as well as their own children, who have had a tough decade themselves.
The fact is family life has become financially impossible for many households as children live at home for longer, pensions grow weaker and the elderly need care for longer. Everyone seems to need more, yet budget cuts and the after effects of economic crisis mean your life’s hard work falls short of the finances.
How to cope when caring for two generations
- Plan ahead: Assess your family to see what kind of position you may be in once you reach retirement. Be realistic and consider whether your kids will be financially dependent in any way, the possibility of more children and the age of your parents or other family members. You can’t predict the future of course, but you can take a good look at your family and its assets to evaluate risk.
- Know your entitlements: As soon as you find yourself looking after one or multiple family members, find out what benefits and reliefs you and your dependents are entitled to. Carer’s Allowance isn’t publicised enough, and there are other public benefits that could ease the blow as well, so check your entitlements.
- Seek financial advice: You can get free advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or go through independent financial advisers for help with your finances. They can advise you on how to deal with the remainder of your mortgage, your property as an asset and manage any debt you may have. Now is a great time to speak to a financial advisor following the recent changes to pensions and access to your retirement funds.
There’s nothing easy about caring for loved ones, but you’re not alone. Get in touch with the Carers Trust if you need advice on how to improve your situation or a friendly ear to listen.