COVID-19 has upended the ways families are working and caring for their loved ones, but members of the Sandwich Generation – those individuals, often members of Gen X, who are simultaneously caring for children and parents – are feeling especially squeezed.

Even before COVID-19, caring for loved ones was an important part of the family equation

The New York Life surveys, fielded first March 23-24 and again April 9-10, began with several questions assessing respondents’ general financial sentiments without being prompted to think about coronavirus. Their answers revealed that caring for aging family members was already on their minds, with 38% of adults saying it is likely that they will need to care for an aging relative in the next 10 years; 5% said they are already caring for someone. (Note: This question was only asked in March.)

And, when thinking about caring for an older adult relative in the next 10 years, how prepared do you feel to assist with the following acts that your older adult relative may need?

Among all adults surveyed, showing % that indicate feeling unprepared    

  All Adults     Generation    
Gen Z    

Millennials

Gen X     Boomers    

Activities of daily living

bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, eating meals, getting in and out of chairs    

32%

41%

36%

35%

26%

Caregiver tasks

meals, shopping for groceries, refilling prescriptions, transportation to appointments    

26%

35%

30%

29%

19%

Health care needs

administering medical treatment, physical therapy    

35%

46%

40%

38%

28%

Helping with larger financial needs

housing, large medical bills, or regular bill payments

42%

52%

50%

47%

30%

 

While about one in three members of Gen X said they feel unprepared to assist with the physical aspects of caring for an aging loved one, an even larger proportion – nearly half (47%) – said they feel unprepared to support an older adult relative’s financial needs.

COVID-19 heightens the urgency of caregiving

Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Americans saw lifespans increasing, healthcare costs rising, and the systems designed to address the nation’s healthcare needs being strained. New York Life’s data found that two-thirds of adults (61% in late March and 64% in early April) were thinking about aging family members more often in recent weeks.

Gen X, in particular, is experiencing significant pressure on this front. Roughly one-in-three Gen Xers felt like they’re more likely to have to care for an aging parent as a result of the coronavirus outbreak – a number that grew from 27% in late March to 34% in early April. Even more striking is that just 39% of Gen Xers felt confident about caring for an aging parent.

And to compound the issue, the survey also suggests that Gen X is generally feeling more anxious about their near-term financial security. In both March and April, about two-in-five said they are much less confident about their savings based on their 1-year economic outlook; only about one-in-five said they are more confident.

Said Aaron Ball, SVP and Head of Insurance Solutions, New York Life, “The coronavirus pandemic has required all of us to re-evaluate our priorities. Caring for family has, for many of us, always occupied the top spot on our list – but preparing for the unexpected caregiving situation can be critical and it is important to think about what caring for family looks like, and how we translate that love into action.”

There is a solution to the problem

Despite Gen Xers’ lack of confidence in their preparedness, they do see hope on the horizon: As of early April, 32% said they are more confident in their savings based on their 10-year economic outlook, and 51% say they are likely to update their financial plan as a result of the coronavirus.

As the Sandwich Generation continues to look ahead, there are proactive steps they can take now to ensure they’re equipped to care for their family’s health, both now and in the future. But these steps aren’t just for Gen X; they can be beneficial for all of us as we plan for our families’ needs.

  • First, think about how you need to get your financial house in order. Ask yourself some key questions: Do you have an emergency fund ready in case of a sudden, unexpected medical expense? What types of insurance policies do you already have in place? What health conditions do your relatives have that will require proactive management, and what resources do you already have to take care of them?
  • Second, get help building a financial strategy. Many financial professionals are working with clients over the phone or via video conference, allowing you the same access and human guidance you would receive in-person. They can help you specifically address the steps your family needs to take to protect your aging relatives without compromising your financial stability, such as rebalancing your portfolio or re-evaluating your day-to-day budget.

“Many people have new, pressing calls on their finances in light of the pandemic, in addition to the previous need to plan for the future,” added Ball. “A financial professional can help build a strategy that balances your long-term plans against your immediate needs.”

About the Surveys

The surveys were conducted among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The surveys, fielded first March 23-24, 2020, and again April 9-10, 2020, were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.

Media contact
Sara Sefcovic
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-4499
Sara_M_Sefcovic@newyorklife.com

Related content