As baby boomers age, more and more millennials are becoming caregivers. Many are taking on this role while just getting started in their own lives, leading to difficult decisions about priorities. Proper planning can help them navigate this terrain.  

The term “sandwich generation” was coined to refer to baby boomers who were taking care of their parents while also having young children of their own. Now millennials are moving into the sandwich generation at a younger age than their parents did. According to an AARP study, one in four family caregivers is part of the millennial generation. And a study by Genworth found that the average age of caregivers in 2018 was 47, down from 53 in 2010. A theory as to why has to do with the fact that the baby boomers had kids later in life (relative to the prior generation) and many more are divorced and so are without a spouse to provide home care.

Younger caregivers have different challenges than older caregivers. They may have younger kids themselves to manage and careers that are just beginning, rather than established. In addition, more millennial men are caregivers compared to previous generations. The AARP study found that millennials spend an average of 21 hours a week on caregiving, and one in four spend more than 20 hours per week. More than half (53 percent) also hold a full-time job in addition to their caregiving duties and 31 percent work part time.

Caregivers Get Younger, Long-Term Care Costs Rise

When it comes to long-term care costs, the charges for home care are now rising faster than those for nursing home care.

According to Genworth's 2019 Cost of Care survey. In the past year, the median annual cost for home health aides rose 4.55 percent to $52,624, while the median cost of a private nursing home room rose only 1.82 percent to $102,200.

Sadly, the average costs of long-term care for Floridians are even higher than these national averages.

Genworth reports that the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $90,155, up 0.96 percent from 2018, and the median cost of assisted living facilities rose 1.28 percent, to $4,051 a month. But home care services had sharper increases. The national median annual rate for the services of a home health aide rose from $22 to $23 an hour, and the cost of adult day care, which provides support services in a protective setting during part of the day, rose from $72 to $75 a day, up 4.17 percent annually.

As the survey indicates, long-term care is growing ever more expensive. A Florida elder law attorney can help educate you on how you can protect some or all of your family's assets from being swallowed up by these rising costs.

Caregivers Can Be Compensated Though a Personal Services Contract

Managing caregiving duties, family, and employment is stressful. Even when a family member is in an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility, a family caregiver is often needed to interact with the care facility administrators, visit their loved one, advocate for them, etc... This can often turn into a part-time job. As a result, Florida recognizes the benefit of a personal services contract (also known as a family caregiver agreement).

Having plans in place, such as a well-drafted personal services contract or family caregiver agreement, can help alleviate some of the stress, and the earlier you plan ahead the better. The following are some more resources you can use to put together a long-term care plan (you may want to discuss all of these with your elder care attorney): 

  • Long-term care insurance can help lessen some of the costs of caregiving if it is purchased early enough. 
  • A geriatric care manager can help determine what care is needed and where to find resources. 
  • An elder law attorney can draft essential documents like a power of attorney and a health care surrogate, as well as advise you on available benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or Veteran’s Administration benefits. 
  • Adult day care can give caregivers a much-needed break. 

Having resources in place will help, but you also need to be mindful of when you need help. Recognize when you are being stretched too thin and consider your priorities. If possible, talk to your employer about flexible hours. Consult with other family members and do not be afraid to delegate tasks. Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and finding time to relax. For some tips on handling the caregiver/life balance, click the link.

Here is an article on the unique care giving challenges facing the women of Generation X.