Robin is a typical example of a young woman in the "sandwich" generation. She works as Human Resources Director for a major firm and is raising three children. She provides long-distance care giving for both her father and her father-in-law. Fortunately, Robin shares these care-giving needs with her sisters and sister-in-law. Both her father and her father-in-law needed short-term nursing home care. Because they needed short-term care, they did not experience much financial hardship. Both men received care at home from their spouses and nearby family members.
Robin works at a firm with a very youthful workforce, so the issue of long-term care is not much of a concern. The financial impact of lost work time and turnover from care giving has not hit her company.
Still, Robin knows that planning ahead for long-term care is as important as planning for a healthy retirement. At the same time, she recognizes the significant challenges of doing so while juggling work and a family. She has one child in college and one about to begin ,so there are other pressing financial matters. Because of this, Robin says, long-term planning is "just on the back burner at this point."
However, recently she and her sisters helped their mom plan ahead for her future needs. Together, they discussed options and decided her mother would move across the country to be closer to her youngest daughter, and she will live in a full-service retirement community where she can get assisted living or nursing home care if needed. It is difficult for Robin’s Mom to move away from a place she lived for 50 years. But she knows that this decision will reduce the burden on her daughters. So why isn't Robin doing more about planning ahead for her own long-term care needs? "I guess I just haven't had enough of a reality check on that yet. I've been lucky that no one in the family has had an extended or difficult experience with long-term care financially or logistically. So that probably means it is just a more difficult thing for me to imagine. Besides," she continued, "work is really crazy these days and it’s hard enough just to keep up with work and family. I know it is something I should do eventually, but it's just hard to find the time."
These competing concerns are typical of the "sandwich generation." They make it difficult to take the time to plan ahead for their own future long-term care needs, and help care for aging parents and growing children. But often, seeing the options and choices, as her mother does , can help boomers like Robin make the time to start thinking about planning.
When she heard about the "Own Your Future" initiative, Robin said. "Maybe other people like me who haven't had enough exposure to these issues might begin to think and plan ahead." She said she might feel different if her employer offered long-term care insurance or if she had to consider it as an HR benefit for her firm. "My sister just enrolled in a long term care insurance plan at her company," she noted. "But I think her first-hand experience with the issue as her young husband struggled with his health has made the topic very real for her."
Robin always had the impression that she could not afford long-term care insurance. "We think nothing of spending thousands of dollars on car or homeowners insurance, partly because we have to, but we' re glad we have that coverage. Applying the same concept to long-term care seems harder. I don't know what needs to happen to cause a cultural shift in our thinking."